Joe Biden Is Undermining Public Support for Immigration

Just as Barbara Jordan warned; the latest poll from The Economist and YouGov

By Andrew R. Arthur on January 12, 2024

I recently analyzed a CBS News poll showing that 70 percent of Americans disapprove of Joe Biden’s handling of immigration, an all-time low for him and likely the worst showing for any incumbent. The Economist has just released its own latest poll, and it shows that Americans are losing their commitment to immigration — just as civil-rights icon Barbara Jordan warned nearly three decades ago would happen if our nation failed to control illegal immigration. Democrats and the nation as a whole have no one but the president, his advisors, and his border policies to blame.

Like that CBS News poll, the latest survey was conducted by YouGov, this time of 1,593 U.S. adults. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 points generally, and +/-2.9 points for registered voters.

“Do You Approve or Disapprove of the Way Joe Biden Is Handling Immigration?” I’ll start with a relatively bright spot for the White House. YouGov asked respondents: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling immigration?”

In response, 33 percent said they approved of the job Biden is doing on immigration (but just 8 percent “strongly”), while 59 percent disapproved of his handling of the issue (a whopping 41 percent strongly).

Why is that the bright spot? Because again, the CBS News poll YouGov just performed revealed that 70 percent disapproved of Biden on immigration, with just 30 percent giving the president a thumbs-up on the issue. The major difference in this poll is the 11 percent of respondents who had no opinion on the question, but that’s hardly an endorsement of the White House’s policies.

“Are You Confident or Uneasy about Joe Biden’s Ability to Deal Wisely with Immigration?” The poll largely goes downhill from there for the president, at least with respect to immigration issues.

YouGov asked respondents: “Are you confident or uneasy about Joe Biden’s ability to deal wisely with immigration?” On that question, just 27 percent were confident about the president’s wisdom in handling this issue, compared to 57 percent who were uneasy about it. This time, however, 16 percent had no opinion.

Both males (59 percent uneasy) and females (55 percent uneasy) were largely on the same page on this question, but while 56 percent of Democrats had faith in Biden’s ability to handle immigration, just 16 percent of Independents and 8 percent of Republicans shared their confidence.

Independents were much more likely than respondents as a whole to be uneasy (64 percent) with Biden’s hand on the immigration levers than respondents generally, and not surprisingly, 84 percent of Republicans agreed with them on that point.

Interestingly, 55 percent of Hispanics were uneasy with Biden’s ability to deal wisely with immigration, compared to just 34 percent who had confidence in the president.

Contrast those answers with respondents’ confidence vs. uneasiness with Biden’s main Republican opponent, Donald Trump’s, ability to handle immigration. A plurality, 46 percent, expressed confidence in Trump’s ability to deal with the issue, while 43 percent said that prospect made them uneasy, and 11 percent weren’t sure.

There was a strong split on this question between males and females, however, with 51 percent of men but only 41 percent of women placing their confidence in Trump’s ability to deal with immigration. On the flip side, 47 percent of women but only 39 percent of men were uneasy with Trump’s handling of the issue.

Again, interestingly, while Hispanics weren’t that confident about Trump’s ability to deal with immigration, he beat Biden among this demographic, as 35 percent of them placed their trust in the 45th president to handle this issue vs. 51 percent who were uneasy about Trump’s wisdom in dealing with the subject.

Independents were evenly split on Trump’s immigration insight, with 42 percent feeling confident and 42 percent uneasy. Democrats were heavily in the uneasy camp (76 percent), but still 16 percent had confidence in Biden’s predecessor when it came to immigration. Some 83 percent of GOP voters, on the other hand, put their immigration confidence in Trump, but he did make 10 percent of them uneasy on his handling of this topic.

“In General, Do You Think Immigration Makes the U.S. Better Off or Worse Off?” Which brings me to the critical question in that poll. YouGov asked respondents: “In general, do you think immigration makes the U.S. better off or worse off?” The responses were both surprising and disheartening.

In response, a solid plurality of those polled, 37 percent, said that immigration makes the country worse off, while 28 percent said it makes the country better off, and 21 percent said that it didn’t make much difference.

Curiously, women were slightly more likely to say that immigration makes the country worse off (38 percent) than men (35 percent) and were conversely less likely to say that it made America better off (26 percent) than men were (29 percent).

Hispanics, by the narrowest of margins, were more likely to say that immigration makes the United States worse off than better, 30 percent to 29 percent, respectively. They were also more likely to say that immigration makes no difference than non-Hispanic whites, by a 24 percent to 18 percent margin.

Independent voters were more likely to think immigration makes the Republic worse off (35 percent) than better (26 percent), while Democrats were the most bullish on the salubrious impacts of immigration, with 41 percent saying it makes the country better off compared to 16 percent who chose worse off. Republicans — by an overwhelming margin — were much more likely to respond that immigration makes the country worse (60 percent) than better (15 percent).

Gallup’s May Polling. Compare those answers to ones collected by Gallup less than six months ago, when that polling outfit asked: “On the whole, do you think immigration is a good thing or a bad thing for this country today?”

In response, 68 percent of those surveyed overall said that immigration was a “good thing”, compared to 27 percent who asserted it was a “bad thing”. In that poll, 50 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Independents, and 87 percent of Democrats deemed immigration a good thing for America today, as opposed to 43 percent of those in the GOP, 28 percent of the politically unaligned, and 10 percent of Biden’s fellow Democrats who asserted immigration was a bad thing.

These, of course are two different polls conducted by two separate outfits asking slightly different questions, but there is no way not to recognize a clear trendline between the responses in the two — and that trend is headed in the wrong direction for those who (like the Center) view immigration to this country as a good thing, provided it is properly limited, well-regulated, and legal.

The biggest difference, of course, is the timing. That Gallup poll was taken directly after the expiration of Title 42, when the number of migrants apprehended entering illegally was on a brief decline. In fact, Gallup noted at the time:

The poll was conducted after the Biden administration lifted emergency regulations employed during the pandemic, known as Title 42, that had allowed border control officers to immediately deport people caught entering the U.S. illegally rather than give them an asylum hearing.

Since Title 42 was suspended in mid-May, the number of illegal border crossings has declined sharply, partly because aspiring migrants are being encouraged to book appointments for asylum hearings through a mobile phone system called the CBP One App.

How things have changed in the interim. Border Patrol apprehensions at the Southwest border more than doubled between June (just over 99,500) and September (nearly 219,000), while overall CBP encounters hit their highest level ever (thus far published, at least) in September, when they exceeded 341,000.

Senate negotiations on immigration reforms in exchange for billions in military aid to Ukraine launched the disaster at the border onto the radar of major media outlets that had largely ignored the problems there in December, while the news is filled with articles about big northern cities that are facing cuts in social services in due to their own migrant crises, involving aliens released by Biden’s DHS at the border.

“If We Cannot Control Illegal Immigration, We Cannot Sustain our National Interest in Legal Immigration.” Americans are now beginning to understand and feel the impacts of the wave of illegal immigration that President Biden’s border release policies have unleashed, and they don’t like it. No wonder their mood on immigration overall has turned sour so quickly.

Barbara Jordan — "civil-rights advocate”, “political icon”, and then chairwoman of President Clinton’s Commission on Immigration Reform warned the country nearly 30 years ago that this would occur.

In February 1994, she appeared before the House Judiciary Committee and explained:

If we cannot control illegal immigration, we cannot sustain our national interest in legal immigration. Those who come here illegally, and those who hire them, will destroy the credibility of our immigration policies and their implementation. In the course of that, I fear, they will destroy our commitment to immigration itself.

Which, as the YouGov poll reveals, is exactly what’s happening. Americans are turning against legal immigration, just as Jordan warned they would, because the Biden administration is not only failing to control illegal immigration, its policies countenance illegal immigration. That’s a bad thing, but those who don’t like this trend have only the president and his advisors to blame.