WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Seventy percent of Americans, including 86 percent of Republican voters, say undocumented immigrants are threatening the U.S. economy, and the country’s traditional customs, values and beliefs.
The Reuters/Ipsos online interviews with 2,014 Americans shows there are deep worries within the U.S. that illegal immigrants are eroding the country’s traditional culture and beliefs. The poll comes as President Barack Obama is attempting to loosen U.S. immigration policies around a stagnant Congress that is currently on August recess.
The poll reflected that immigration issues are joining the Affordable Care Act and the economy as the hottest topics driving Republican voters to the ballot box for this November’s midterm elections. Obama is looking to act alone to give work permits to 5 million undocumented immigrants and postpone some deportations as means of temporary reform, Reuters notes. And while liberal and Hispanic voters would embrace the president’s action, the poll suggests a large majority of the U.S. does not.
A solid majority of Americans polled, 63 percent, said immigrants are placing a burden on the U.S. economy.
Regionally, New England voters were much more opposed to illegal immigration than in the rest of the country. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of New Englanders said undocumented immigrants are threatening American customs and beliefs – compared to 70 percent nationwide.
Although the health care law and the economy are the top concerns for voters, a recent surge of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central American countries has placed immigration under intense media coverage and political debate between the GOP and Democrats. A July Gallup poll showed that immigration was the No. 1 problem, even topping the U.S. economy.
In his 2012 re-election, Obama’s capturing of more than 70 percent of the Latino vote showed that the rapidly growing sect of the country was continuing to reject a Republican Party that many believe has alienated the Hispanic community.
Forty-five percent of those polled by Reuters said that the number of immigrants legally allowed to enter the country should be reduced, while only 17 percent said more legal immigrants should be allowed to enter the U.S.
Thirty-eight percent of Americans said they are content with the current amount of immigrants legally entering the country.
“If Obama starts using executive orders to grant citizenship or to stop deportations I think he gives Republicans a big opening,” said Jennifer Duffy, of the Cook Political Report analyst group. “It’ll be about the issue at hand, immigration, but it also feeds into this Republican narrative of overreach, of sort of abusing his power.”