With thousands of undocumented immigrant minors crossing the nation's southern border in recent months, the percentage of Americans citing immigration as the top problem has surged to 17% this month, up from 5% in June, and the highest seen since 2006. As a result, immigration now virtually ties "dissatisfaction with government," at 16%, as the primary issue Americans think of when asked to name the country's top problem.
This is not the first time that immigration has spiked in the public's consciousness. Most recently, Gallup found the issue increasing to 10% in 2010, at a time when a new immigration law in Arizona was making news. And prior to that, it increased twice in 2006 to 15% or higher, amid congressional debate over immigration reform.
Signaling that public mentions of immigration today could be stemming more from concern about illegal immigration than from support for immigration reform, mentions of the issue are significantly higher among Republicans (23%) than Democrats (11%). Gallup polling earlier this year showed Republicans with a preference for focusing on sealing the border, while Democrats prioritized addressing the status of illegal immigrants already here.Even in Massachusetts, there is considerable opposition to taking the young migrants and other undocumented aliens. The Boston Globe reports:
Massachusetts voters are split on Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to provide temporary shelter for up to 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children on a state air base or military training installation, according to a new Boston Globe poll.
Given the details of Patrick’s proposal, including the fact that the facilities would be staffed and paid for by the federal government and open for up to four months, 50 percent of those polled expressed support, with 43 percent opposed. That’s within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
But on national immigration initiatives, respondents were more skeptical. Asked more broadly whether the migrant children should be allowed to stay in the United States after judicial hearings, only 39 percent answered yes, compared with 43 percent who said the children should be deported.