While conservatives compete with one another on who can be the most hardline and unwelcoming to American immigrants, it’s worth noting just how out of step they are with the views of most Americans.
The latest evidence comes from a major survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. In that survey, respondents endorsed the view that increasing numbers of immigrants strengthens American society (53 percent) over the view that growing numbers of immigrants undermines traditional American customs and values (42 percent).
In the same survey, the public said, by 57-40, that undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children should be able to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college (this is the idea behind the DREAM Act, which conservatives blocked).
Finally, the public overwhelmingly rejected a deportation-oriented approach to solving the country’s illegal immigration problem. They prefer an approach that combines securing our borders with providing an earned path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here by 62-36.
It’s worth noting that attitudes toward immigrants are even more positive among the rising and massive Millennial generation. This suggests that conservatives’ strategy of ignoring the public will on this issue will be even less viable in the future.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.