• Polling

A Majority of Americans want Immigration Reform that Balances Security and Pathway for Citizenship

Friday, May 26, 2023 By Bryan Bennett
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Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.
Key takeaways
  • Awareness of the expiration of Title 42 is low as compared to other recent events. However, many Americans have the false impression that it led to a surge of migrants at the border.
  • Americans see Title 42 as having been a temporary fix and want a more permanent solution in its stead, as well as comprehensive immigration reform more generally that includes both paths to citizenship and border security.
  • Even pluralities of Republicans, and two in three Americans overall, prefer a balanced approach – one that expands paths to citizenship for groups like Dreamers if they meet certain criteria while also increasing border security – to a security-only approach.
  • Biden and Democrats hold significant trust advantages on creating legal pathways to citizenship for immigrants and protecting Dreamers, but Republicans hold a narrow advantage on fixing our immigration system and a larger advantage on border security.

Awareness of the Expiration of Title 42 Is Lower Than Other Recent Events, Especially Outside of Fox News Republicans

Fewer Americans are hearing about Title 42’s expiration than about a default (61%) or heard about the shooting down of a Chinese surveillance balloon in February (78%), Trump’s potential indictment in March (66%), or the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March (59%).

  • Fox-News-viewing Republicans* are more likely to report hearing about the expiration of Title 42 (73% hearing “a lot” or “some”) than non-Fox Republicans (54%), Democrats (51%), or independents (43%).

Despite No Migrant Surge After Title 42’s Expiration, the Pre- Expiration Hype of a Potential Surge Left a False Impression

More say there has been “an unusually high surge of migrants at the border recently” (40%) than that “there has been no recent surge of migrants” (29%), despite the latter being the reality of the situation. Fox News Republicans* are most likely to say there has been a surge (68%), though 53% of non-Fox News Republicans, 37% of CNN viewers, and 39% of MSNBC viewers also report high surges of migrants.


Bipartisan Majorities Want a Permanent Fix to the Immigration System, Not the Temporary Extension of Title 42

Two in three independents (66%) and half of Republicans (50%) say Title 42 “was a temporary pandemic policy” and that Congress and the President should focus on “a permanent fix… which includes border security and pathway to citizenship laws.”

Three in Four Americans Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform When Defined as Part Security, Part Paths to Citizenship

Americans across party lines support comprehensive immigration reform that includes border security and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including large majorities of Democrats (net +65 support), independents (net +48), and Republicans (net +52).

By a Significant Margin, Americans Want a Balanced Approach to the Immigration System Over a Security-Only Approach

Nearly seven in ten independents (69%) and a plurality of Republicans (48%) prefer “a balanced approach that both increases border security and protects Dreamers” over “focusing on border security only.”

Dreamers Are Viewed Favorably, and Even More So When Clearly Defining Who Dreamers Are

Defining “Dreamers” leads a majority of Americans (54%) to express favorable views (compared to 38% without a definition, with 38% not knowing enough to say).

Biden and Democrats Trusted More to Create Legal Pathways to Citizenship; Republicans Trusted More on Border Security

Americans trust Biden and the Democratic Party more than the Republican Party on “protecting Dreamers” (net +30 trust Biden and Democrats overall) and “creating legal pathways to citizenship for immigrants” (net +18), as Republicans hold a slimmer advantage on “fixing our immigration system” (net +6 Republicans) and a larger advantage on “securing the southern border” (net +17).

Family Separation, Criminalizing Citizens for Interacting With the Undocumented, and Ending DACA Are GOP Steps Gone Too Far

Pluralities of Democrats and independents say every policy tested goes too far, as do Republicans on a range of policies including family separation, deputizing citizens to arrest migrants who cross the border, and criminalizing housing/transporting undocumented immigrants.

About The Study

Global Strategy Group conducted public opinion surveys among a sample of 1,000 registered voters from May 18-May 21, 2023. 100 additional interviews were conducted among Hispanic voters. 76 additional interviews were conducted among Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. 100 additional interviews were conducted among African American voters. 100 additional interviews were conducted among independent voters. The survey was conducted online, recruiting respondents from an opt-in online panel vendor. Respondents were verified against a voter file and special care was taken to ensure the demographic composition of our sample matched that of the national registered voter population across a variety of demographic variables.

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About Navigator

In a world where the news cycle is the length of a tweet, our leaders often lack the real-time public-sentiment analysis to shape the best approaches to talking about the issues that matter the most. Navigator is designed to act as a consistent, flexible, responsive tool to inform policy debates by conducting research and reliable guidance to inform allies, elected leaders, and the press. Navigator is a project led by pollsters from Global Strategy Group and GBAO along with an advisory committee, including: Andrea Purse, progressive strategist; Arkadi Gerney, The Hub Project; Joel Payne, The Hub Project; Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List; Delvone Michael, Working Families; Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute; Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO; Jesse Ferguson, progressive strategist; Navin Nayak, Center for American Progress Action Fund; Stephanie Valencia, EquisLabs; and Melanie Newman, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

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