Poll: Most Want Immigration Curbed

Actress Laura Bell Bundy attends the 61st Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 10, 2007 in New York. Getty Images/Peter Kramer

One idea under consideration by the Bush Administration and Congress to address U.S. immigration issues is to allow illegal immigrants to apply for work permits in the United States. However, that concept does not find favor with the public. Sixty-three percent say immigrants who are in the country illegally should not be able to apply for a permit that allows them to stay and work.

ALLOW ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO APPLY FOR U.S. WORK PERMITS?

Yes
32%
No
63%

Opposition to work permits crosses party and ideological boundaries: most Democrats, Republicans and Independents are opposed, as are most liberals, conservatives and moderates.

A slight majority – 51 percent - would even like to decrease the level of legal immigrants permitted to enter the United States. In January 2004, 45 percent wanted that level lowered. In December 2001, in the months following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 59 percent wanted legal immigration reduced, more than support this today.

LEGAL IMMIGRATION TO THE U.S. SHOULD BE…

Increased
Now
13%
Jan. 2004
16%
Dec. 2001
9%

Kept as is
Now
32%
Jan. 2004
34%
Dec. 2001
29%

Decreased
Now
51%
Jan. 2004
45%
Dec. 2001
59%

But Americans don't think immigrants are taking desirable jobs away from them. Only 33 percent say immigrants take away jobs from current Americans while most – 52 percent - say immigrants instead fill the jobs that current Americans don't want to do. A majority of Americans has thought this each time CBS News has asked the question since 1986. In this poll, Westerners are the most likely to agree that immigrants do jobs Americans don't want.

IMMIGRANTS TO THE U.S…

Take jobs away from Americans
Now
33%
July 2003
30%
Oct. 1996
22%
June 1986
34%

Take jobs Americans don't want
Now
52%
July 2003
59%
Oct. 1996
67%
June 1986
52%


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1222 adults, interviewed by telephone July 29-August 2, 2005. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on all adults. Error for subgroups is higher.


For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.
  • Sean Alfano

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