Although 51 percent of Americans think immigrants strengthen the country, an overwhelming majority of Americans do not want to see immigration levels increase, according to a new Pew poll.
Just 24 percent of those polled said the U.S. should increase the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country, while 70 percent said the level of immigration should decrease or remain the same. Six percent said they didn’t know. (RELATED: Media Ignores Evidence Americans Want To REDUCE Legal Immigration)
The share of those who believe immigrants strengthen the country by their hard work and talents dropped from a high of 57 percent last year to a small majority of 51 percent this year. And the share of those who believe immigrants are a burden on the economy rose from 35 to 41 percent.
The declining share of Americans who view immigrants unfavorably holds across party lines, although most Democrats and Independents still believe they strengthen the country.
The share of Republicans who believe immigrants strengthen the country dropped sharply from about 45 percent in 2013 to just 27 percent this year. The share of Democrats who view immigrants favorably dropped a few points to 62 percent, and the share of Independents dropped slightly to 57 percent.
Despite a number of polls similar to this one showing more Americans than not — across party and demographic lines — are concerned about legal immigration, most of the Republican and Democratic 2016 candidates favor an increase.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are the only 2016 candidates talking about slowing the rate of legal immigration into the country, for the sake of American workers.
The foreign-born population will reach 51 million by 2023, which is the largest share of total population ever recorded in American history, the U.S. Census Bureau recently projected. (RELATED: Wages Declined As Immigration Surged)
Nearly one in five U.S. residents will be an immigrant by 2060, largely because of legal immigration, not illegal immigration, a Center for Immigration Studies analysis of the Census data found. And immigrants will account for 82 percent of population growth in the U.S. from 2010 through 2060.
The Pew Research Center polled 2,002 adults May 12-18, with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.