Citizens in 23 Countries View Immigration Unfavorably

By Ronald W. Mortensen on August 26, 2011

Recent polls reveal declining support for illegal immigrants in the United States and for immigration in general around the world. Two Rasmussen polls look at American attitudes towards illegal immigration, while an Ipsos worldwide poll looks at immigration generically without differentiating between legal and illegal immigration. The polls reveal the widening gap between America's political class and the voters who put them in office.

The Rasmussen polls show strong support for enforcing the law and for denying benefits to illegal aliens.

An August 18, 2011, Rasmussen survey found that 49 percent of respondents were concerned that attempts to identify and deport illegal aliens would also end up in violating the rights of some U.S. citizens, an eight point drop from May 2010 and a six point decline since April of this year. The results of this poll are especially noteworthy since concern about civil liberties violations continues to fall despite the passage of strict enforcement laws in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and other states.

Another Rasmussen survey, released on August 23, 2011, reveals that Americans continue to oppose birthright citizenship, granting driver's licenses to illegal aliens, and requiring local governments to provide a public school education for children brought illegally into the United States.

Only 32 percent of American voters believe a child born to a woman illegally in the United States should be a U.S. citizen; 60 percent oppose automatic citizenship for children born to illegal aliens.

Only 18 percent of Americans believe illegal aliens should be able to obtain U.S. driver's licenses.

Americans are reluctant to use taxpayer funds to educate the children of illegal aliens. Only 12 percent believe that illegal aliens should be allowed to pay in-state college tuition. A majority of voters do not believe that the children of illegal aliens should be allowed to attend public schools (53 percent), while 72 percent of voters believe parents should be required to prove they are legal residents of the United States when registering a child for public school.

An international survey of 23 countries released by Ipsos in August 2011 found that majorities in countries as diverse as the United States, Germany, South Africa, Russia, and Turkey considered immigration to have a "very or fairly negative impact."

According to the Ipsos poll, only 19 percent of all respondents in the 23 countries surveyed say that there are not too many immigrants in their individual countries.

Only 18 percent don't believe that "Immigration has put too much pressure on public services" and only 25 percent don't think that "Immigrants have made it more difficult for people to find jobs." Just 27 percent of respondents don't think that priority should be given to immigrants with higher education and qualifications, and only 28 percent of all respondents said that immigration is good for the economies of their countries.

Fifty-nine percent of Americans polled, 9th highest of the 23 countries surveyed, agreed that there are too many immigrants in their country. Only 14 percent didn't think there were too many immigrants. Seventy-seven percent of Russians said there were too many immigrants in their country, followed by other European nations – Belgium (72 percent), Great Britain (71 percent), Italy (67 percent), and Spain (67 percent).

The sentiment that there are too many immigrants is not limited to the world's richest countries. Sixty-six percent of South Africans responded that that there are too many immigrants in their country, closely followed by Argentina (61 percent) and India (60 percent). Even 37 percent of Mexicans polled agreed that there were too many immigrants in Mexico.

Sixty-six percent of Americans polled believe that immigration has placed too much pressure on public services, only 9 percent disagreed. This places the U.S. in 4th place out of the 23 countries polled on this question.

Fifty-six percent of Americans say that immigration has a negative impact on the country (6th highest of the 23 surveyed), whereas only 18 percent say that it has a positive effect. Seventy-seven percent of Americans believe that over the last five years, the number of migrants has increased a lot/little (18/23).

Sixty percent of Americans believe that immigrants have made it more difficult for Americans to get jobs (6th out of 23 countries), while only 19 percent say that immigration doesn't impact the ability of Americans to get jobs.

Only 23 percent of Americans believe that immigration is good for the economy, while double that amount, 46 percent, say that it is not good for the economy. Only six countries have a less favorable view of the impact of immigration on the economy than the United States: Argentina, Belgium, South Africa, Russia, Turkey, and Hungary.

When it comes to giving priority to immigrants with higher education degrees and other qualifications to fill shortages among certain professions in the country, the United States came in at the bottom of the list (23/23). Americans were equally divided on this question 33 percent for, 33 percent against, and 30 percent undecided), whereas large majorities in Canada (62 percent), Australia (61 percent), and Great Britain (58 percent) thought that priority should be given to immigrants who can fill shortages among key professions.

Although the political class in the United States would have us believe that Americans who oppose illegal immigration are in the minority, the Rasmussen polls clearly show that there is strong opposition on all fronts to illegal immigration and the benefits illegal immigrants receive. And according to the Ipsos poll, the largely negative perception that the majority of Americans have of immigration is shared by people in democratic nations around the world.

America's political class would do well to listen to the citizens and address their concerns about both legal and illegal immigration rather than trying to push highly unpopular amnesty and open-border schemes forward. And they should be aware that when they try to marginalize opponents of illegal immigration by labeling them as zealots, bigots, racists, and xenophobes, they are applying the same slurs to people around the world.