Attitudes toward immigration

Below, Art says:

Of course the Republican and conservative segment of the population is strongly anti-immigration …

They are strongly anti-illegal immigration. Most conservatives favor legal immigration, particularly skilled immigrants.

This is not really true, depending on how you interpret what Art meant. In fact, Americans as a whole want lower levels of legal immigration. In 2006 the Center for Immigration Studies republished a Zogby Poll on American attitudes toward immigration. I reproduced some of the responses to two questions below in a table.

I highlighted a few rows.

1) American Jews are outliers on immigration (though even among them there is a tendency to toward immigration skeptic positions).

2) No surprise that the highest income Americans are those who most agree that one needs immigration to bolster the unskilled labor force.

3) There are some peculiar numbers for “very conservative” individuals. 21% are “not sure” if immigration is necessary to meet the needs of unskilled labor in this country. I have two hypotheses:

a) A significant proportion of “very conservative” individuals are strongly influenced by economic libertarian arguments about the utility of easy flows of capital and labor in a global economy. So this is an empirical question for them which they will not offer an opinion upon if they don’t have the information on hand.

b) A significant proportion of “very conservative” individuals don’t see immigration as an economic issue at all, but rather one of race, ethnicity and national character. So these sorts of considerations are moot for them.

There are currently 37 million legal and illegal immigrants in the United States and 1.5 million new legal and illegal immigrants settle in the country each year. Putting aside for a moment the question of legal status and considering only the numbes, do yo think the number entering the country is too high, too low, or just about right?
  Too High Too Low Just About Right Not Sure
All Americans 66 2 26 7
Women 72 1 20 7
Men 59 2 32 7
Republicans 70 0 24 6
Democrats 62 3 31 4
Independents 66 2 21 12
Whites 68 1 24 7
Blacks 73 3 19 5
Hispanics 43 1 43 14
Very Conservative 85 1 14 3
Conservative 70 1 20 8
Moderate 65 1 26 7
Liberal 58 1 32 9
Progressive 48 4 46 2
Protestant 73 1 22 5
Born-Again 78 1 18 3
Catholic 64 0 30 6
Jewish 49 14 30 7
House income < $25 K 70 0 21 8
$25 – $35 K 72 2 21 5
$35 – $50 K 62 3 29 6
$50 – $75 K 64 1 29 6
> $75 K 63 1 29 7
Which of the following statements best reflects your views with regard to low-wage jobs that require relatively little education?
There are plenty of Americans do to such jobs, employers just need to pay higher wages and treat workers better to attract Americans America needs large numbers of immigrants because there are not enough Americans to fill such jobs Not Sure
All Americans 74 15 10
Women 79 12 9
Men 69 19 12
Republicans 70 17 12
Democrats 78 15 7
Independents 75 12 13
Whites 74 16 10
Blacks 84 5 12
Hispanics 65 20 14
Very Conservative 71 9 21
Conservative 72 18 10
Moderate 80 13 7
Liberal 76 16 8
Progressive 70 18 14
Protestant 77 14 9
Born-Again 78 12 10
Catholic 75 14 12
Jewish 55 35 10
House income < $25 K 90 7 3
$25 – $35 K 80 11 9
$35 – $50 K 82 11 7
$50 – $75 K 76 13 11
> $75 K 61 25 14

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