A significantly higher percentage of Americans have listed immigration as an issue that they hope the federal government will work to address in 2019.
Forty-nine percent of Americans have chosen immigration as a top priority. The numbers are a far climb from the same poll last year where only 27 percent of respondents singled out immigration as a top concern. Such an increase indicates President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigration, and the current battle in Congress, is grabbing the nation’s attention.
The recently-released survey — conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research — asked respondents to choose which issues they hoped the government would solve this year, allowing them to pick up to five different categories. The “economy/economic issues” grabbed a commanding lead, with 62 percent of respondents listing it as a problem. “Immigration” tied with “health care” for second place.
Unsurprisingly, the priority Americans take on immigration varies among partisan affiliation.
Sixty-Five percent of Republican respondents chose immigration as one of their top five concerns, whereas only 37 percent of Democrats did the same thing. However, both parties saw marked increases over the past year. With 42 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats listing immigration as a top issue when the survey was conducted in December 2017.
“We waste too many resources with illegal aliens,” David Hoyt, a registered Republican living in Iowa and a retired school superintendent, told the Associated Press. “If people want to come here, let’s have them do it legally. I don’t understand why people don’t understand the word ‘illegal.’”
Since entering the Oval Office, Trump has remained vocal about addressing illegal immigration on the country’s southern border. The federal government is currently under a “shutdown” as congressional Democrats and the White House continue to spar over proposed funding for a wall on U.S.-Mexico border. Trump has indicated that he is willing to let the government shutdown remain in place for months — even years — until Democrats relent on spending for a border wall.
“Without borders, I’ve said it many times, we don’t have a country. I hope it doesn’t go on even beyond a few more days. It really could open very quickly,” the president told reporters on Friday.
Actions taken by the American public also indicate a surge in concern over illegal immigration. A GoFundMe page asking for donations to pay for Trump’s border wall has so far accumulated over $18 million from more than 300,000 donors — numerous donors have given $10,000 or more.
The AP-NORC survey reached 1,067 adults and was conducted between Dec. 13 and 16. The poll has a margin-of-error of 4.1 percentage points.
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