The Dynamics of Immigration Opinion in the United States, 1992-2012
Christopher Muste Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming
Abstract: Integrating trend data from ANES, GSS, Gallup, Pew, and media surveys from 1992 to 2012, this article updates and extends previous Poll Trends analyses of public opinion about immigration levels, the impacts of recent immigrants, and immigration policies. The combined data demonstrate continued negativity and ambivalence, consistent with earlier reviews, and reveal a pattern of rapid, steep increases in anti-immigrant sentiment in response to events such as the 1994 election and 9/11, followed by declines over several years that stabilize at lower levels. Since 2001, opinions about most aspects of immigration have become less volatile, and consistent differentiation in opinion has emerged. Concerns about job competition and border enforcement are high, whereas fears about other immigration impacts have declined or stabilized and support for deporting illegal immigrants already in the United States is low. To improve understanding of trends in immigration opinion, survey questions about immigration must be asked more often and more consistently.
Nod to Kevin Lewis