How Family and Friends of Immigrants View Immigration's Societal Impact
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Americans who have immigrant friends or family members are more likely than the general population to say immigration positively affects a host of societal issues, a trend that persists across the political spectrum, according to a recent Morning Consult survey.
Friends or Family Members of Immigrants Have More Positive Views About Immigration’s Impact
Family members and friends of immigrants think more positively about immigration’s role in society
- The data provides a snapshot into the American public’s views of immigration during a pivotal time in U.S. border policy; the May 11-14 survey coincided with the expiration of the pandemic-era Title 42 order.
- While the lion’s share of adults say immigration to the United States is worsening the national outlook on the economy, crime, government benefits, taxes and the labor force, the picture is different among those who count an immigrant as a friend or family member. Among such Americans, a slim 51% majority say immigration has a positive impact on culture, as do pluralities on the economy (41%) and the labor force (45%).
- The trend holds up across the political spectrum: Democrats, independents and Republicans who have immigrant friends or family members are more likely to say the impact of immigration is positive on all issues surveyed.
- Views of immigration’s impact on crime, government benefits and taxes skew the most negative, though less so among those who have personal relationships with immigrants. Almost 3 in 5 Americans (56%) say immigration is making crime worse, including 49% of those with immigrant friends or family members.
Why having an immigrant friend of family member doesn’t change views of crime very much
Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, associate director of the Migration Policy Institute’s International Program, said that while the primary concerns with migration remain fairly constant over time, the exogenous political environment heavily shapes which ones are top-of-mind at any given moment.
“People’s concerns with migration cluster around three issues — crime, economics and culture — but you see a lot of fluctuations in which of these is more salient at different times,” she said, adding that heavy news coverage of crowding at border facilities and illegal border crossings has likely helped to associate migration with criminality for many Americans.
Republicans demonstrate the highest levels of concern about immigration, which right-leaning politicians and commentators tend to reflect and amplify, and survey data shows Republicans are the least likely to socialize with people who arrived from abroad.
Democrats Are More Likely to Have Personal Relationships With Immigrants
Republicans are less likely to have relationships with immigrants
- Roughly a third of Americans (35%) say they are acquainted with someone who immigrated to the United States, a figure that remains consistent across the political spectrum. However, Democrats are more likely to take those relationships to a more intimate level, with 39% saying they have immigrant friends, compared with 27% of Republicans.
- Democrats are also more likely to work alongside immigrants than Republicans (33% to 25%) and more likely to have immigrants in their family (29% to 21%). Democrats are also twice as likely to be immigrants themselves than Republicans (16% to 8%).
The survey was conducted May 11-14, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,202 adults in the United States, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.