Americans Increasingly Want Less Immigration. Politicians Don’t.

Most lawmakers in both parties are keen to keep migration levels high.

The trend: More Americans increasingly want less immigration, according to a February Gallup survey. Since President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021, the percentage of Americans dissatisfied with immigration levels because they want less immigration rose from 19 percent to 40 percent.

  • Both sides of the aisle: The number of both Republicans and Democrats that want less immigration is rising, with Republican discontent surging from 40 percent in 2021 to hovering around 71 percent today, and Democratic dissatisfaction rising from a mere 2 percent in 2021 to around 19 percent.

Why it matters: While more Americans are dissatisfied with high immigration levels in general, those in Washington are only focused on the problems of illegal immigration. Most lawmakers in both parties are keen to keep legal immigration levels high.

  • For example: The RAISE Act, introduced in 2017 by two Republican senators and endorsed by President Donald Trump, would have cut legal immigration in half. Democrats, immigrant lobby groups, and pro-immigration Senate Republicans successfully worked to kill it.

  • Watching 2024: Many 2024 GOP presidential candidates campaign on curbing illegal immigration. But the camp is split, with Trump’s past efforts to cut legal immigration, Ron DeSantis’s goal of limiting low-skill legal immigration, and Vivek Ramaswamy’s support for more legal immigration.

Why do lawmakers support more immigration? Major donors and corporate interests lobby for increased immigration levels, as more migrants means more cheap labor, higher corporate profits, and more economic consumption.