In 24 years, Americans have reversed their opinion on immigration

Support is growing.
Support is growing.
Image: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
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Despite electing a president who broadcasts his distaste for immigrants, Americans like immigration more than they did two decades ago.

According to a Pew Research Center poll, only 31% of Americans in 1994 thought immigrants strengthen the country with their hard work and talents. Close to two-thirds (63%), meanwhile, thought of immigrants as a burden—people who took jobs, health care, and housing from Americans.

By 2017, those feelings had reversed: Almost two-thirds saw immigration as a force for good (65%). Only a quarter (26%) said they believed immigrants hurt the US economy.

Among Democrats, 84% said they think immigration makes America better. But Republican views have shifted, too. In 1994, Democrats and Republicans felt pretty similarly about immigrants—a little less than a third of each group regarded them positively. While Republicans’ positive feelings about immigrants have lagged those of Democrats, they’re still higher than they were about two decades ago. As of 2017, 42% of Republicans said they feel immigrants, through their talent and hard work, make America stronger.

One survey result remains consistent—the percentage of Republicans who think immigrants are a strength has never surpassed the share that see them as a burden.