Poll finds fewer Americans see benefits from immigration

FILE-People who crossed the US/Mexico border are directed to line up by a national guardsman on their way to a border patrol processing area located on the banks of the Rio Grande. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A recent poll shows that Americans see fewer benefits from immigration and are more worried about legal immigrants committing crimes in the U.S. than they were a few years ago. 

About 4 in 10 Americans say that when immigrants come to the U.S. legally, it’s beneficial for U.S. companies to hire skilled employees in industries like science and technology. 

While approximately 38% of respondents say legal immigrants contribute to improving American culture and values, according to a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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Roughly half of Americans support lowering the number of immigrants allowed to seek asylum in the U.S. when they arrive at the border with more Republicans than Democrats supporting this stance.

The poll notes building a wall, former President Donald Trump’s trademark policy goal, was the least popular among respondents with 4 in 10 supporting building a wall, including 77% of Republicans compared to 12% of Democrats. 

To collect their data, the AP polled 1,282 adults between March 21-25, 2024, using a sample from NORC’s probability-based panel created to represent the U.S. population.

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Statistics shared in the recent poll are lower compared to 2017, when the AP noted that 59% of people said skilled immigrant workers entering the U.S. legally were a major benefit, while half said legal immigrants contribute a major benefit by enriching American culture. 

However, a portion of Americans (32%)said there’s a risk that legal immigrants will commit crimes in the U.S. compared to 19% in 2017. 

Where do Republicans and Democrats stand on immigration?

The poll notes that Republicans believe immigration is an important issue for them personally, with 41% of the GOP now saying it's a risk that legal immigrants will commit crimes in the U.S., an increase from 20% in 2017. 

Republicans also see risks— and less benefits — from immigrants who enter the country legally and illegally. But they tend to be more concerned about individuals who come to the country illegally.

According to the poll most Republicans (71%) believe there’s a risk of people in the country illegally coming to the U.S. and committing crimes, while 80% of conservatives think there's a risk that people in the country without permission will burden public service programs. 

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And 6 in 10 Republicans are concerned that there's a risk of immigrants taking U.S. jobs and that their growth will weaken America's identity or that they will vote illegally. 

But Democrats, compared to Republicans, see more benefits from immigration, although the new poll reflects that roughly half of Democrats believe that legal immigrants are making contributions to American companies, a decline of over 20% from 2017. 

According to the poll, Democrats more likely than Republicans say the change for immigrants to leave other locations in the world to find opportunities or escape violence is extremely or very important to America’s identity as a nation. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  This story was reported from Washington, D.C.