Are Immigration Polls Accurate or Just a Numbers Game?



Ranking behind Sierra Leone and just ahead of Burkina Faso, the United States placed sixth on Gallup’s latest “Migrant Acceptance Index.”

The index is based on a three-part query: Are migrants living in your country, becoming your neighbors and marrying into your families a good or bad thing? Ninety percent of Americans surveyed said migrant neighbors are a positive. Eighty-seven percent said migrants living in their country and marrying into their families (85 percent) are good too.

“Acceptance of migrants remained resolute and relatively unchanged from three years ago,” Gallup concluded. A point that gets overlooked is that the poll belies claims that Americans are xenophobic or anti-immigrant. Moreover, acceptance of migrants does not inherently translate into acceptance of mass migration on the part of the American public.

Two months earlier, the same polling company reported that U.S. support for expanded immigration hit record highs.

“Thirty-four percent of Americans, up from 27 percent a year ago, would prefer to see immigration to the U.S. increased. Meanwhile, the percentage favoring decreased immigration has fallen to a new low of 28 percent,” Gallup said in July.

“This marks the first time the percentage wanting increased immigration has exceeded the percentage who want decreased immigration,” the pollster stated.

With such swelling enthusiasm for newcomers, one might expect America to be rivaling Canada for top honors on Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Index, or at least climbing the chart. But the U.S. ranking didn’t budge.

Questioning the accuracy of Gallup’s July survey, FAIR pointed out that several other polls showed Americans supported pausing, not increasing, immigration. Moreover, even the Gallup poll results indicate that two-thirds of Americans do not want to see immigration increased. Similar doubts may apply to the methodology and reliability of the Migrant Acceptance Index, for what it’s worth.

Also last month, Pew Research released a poll purporting to find growing support for immigration among President Donald Trump’s supporters. “About a third (32 percent) say immigrants do more to strengthen society. This is a 13 percentage point increase from 19 percent in 2016,” Pew stated.

That begs the question: Why would self-proclaimed supporters of the president change their minds about the signature issue that won their vote in 2016? This seems especially unlikely when, as the Center of Immigration Studies notes, more than 12 million Americans are unemployed, and immigrant workers aren’t faring any better.

If there’s one certainty in all of this, it’s that polls on immigration will continue spinning until Election Day.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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