Poll: Near majority of Americans supports Trump-backed GOP bill to reduce legal immigration over next decade

We’re all nationalists now. Well, not all, but a strong plurality.

A Twitter pal floats a theory: Has the left’s effort to erase the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants come back to bite them? If you preach “open borders,” as much of the progressive literati does, you risk convincing Americans that immigration is an all-or-nothing proposition. In which case, don’t be surprised if the people who support the legal variety but oppose the illegal type settle on “nothing,” or “much less.”

Or maybe this is pure demographic jitters, with more whites uneasy about the pace at which the Latino population is growing. Either way, the Cotton/Perdue RAISE Act has more support than you’d think after reading media reaction to it. Were Americans not moved by Jim Acosta emoting on camera during Stephen Miller’s press briefing last week?

The survey found 44 percent of voters said they supported the plan introduced last week by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) after they were informed about various components of the immigration bill. Three in 10 voters said they oppose it, the survey found.

The bill’s most popular provision was the points system. Six in 10 (61 percent) support an immigration program that “would award points based on criteria such as education, English-language ability, and prospective salary.” That was followed by support by 59 percent of voters for limiting the number of refugees the U.S. offers permanent residency.

Among six provisions of the Republican plan that were tested, the least popular idea was one to reduce the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. by half over the next decade. Just under 4 in 10 voters (39 percent) opposed the idea, while 48 percent support it.

Having 48 percent in favor of cutting legal immigration by half over the next 10 years is quite a result. It was a cinch that people would like the part of the bill that prioritizes merit in admitting immigrants but reducing legal immigration as an end in itself is a dicey proposition. Americans like legal immigration in broad concept; even in this poll, 66 percent said legal immigrants “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents” versus 20 percent who called them a burden. There have been times in the recent past when a majority of Americans favored reducing immigration, but (a) those polls rarely say by how much and (b) by referring to “immigration” without specifying legal or illegal, they lump restrictionists of various stripes together. Morning Consult was clear in its question that it was describing legal immigration only, and a 50 percent reduction. And they still nearly got a majority for the proposition.

What’s the secret to the bill’s support? Democrats, actually. We’re all used to seeing partisan mirror-imaging on polls involving Trump initiatives, where Republicans support the measure 85/15, say, while Democrats oppose it 15/85. Not on this one. Seven in 10 Republicans support the RAISE Act but just 49 percent of Democrats oppose it. More than a quarter of Dems (28 percent) are in favor of the bill writ large. Nearly a quarter of Democrats (23 percent) agreed with the statement that there are “too many” legal immigrants in the U.S., and 30 percent said there were too many low-skilled immigrants, specifically. That’s a major chunk of bipartisan support for a bill that Trump himself took ownership of, and which one of his advisors most reviled by the left, Stephen Miller, defended at length on television.

A strong majority of 62 percent, by the way, thinks English proficiency should be a criterion in admission. Democrats split 49/42 in favor. Even self-identified “liberals” opposed an English requirement only very narrowly at 44/48. And if you’re wondering how Hispanics come down on all of this, assuming that they’re strongly opposed to the bill, guess again: Although the sample size is small, Hispanics narrowly support the goal of reducing legal immigration by half over the next decade, 45/41. A plurality of 42 percent of Hispanics agrees that there are too many “low-skilled” immigrants in the U.S. (among whites the number is 44 percent), and Hispanics are just about as likely as whites to support a merit-based “points system” for immigration as laid out in the RAISE Act. English-language ability is a fault line, though: Although Hispanics do favor that too on balance (50/37), whites tend to favor it more decisively (64/27). In any case, the point is clear. On immigration, there’s more support for restrictionism across demographics than you might think.

Ah well. Here’s Marco Rubio recognizing that the bill doesn’t have a prayer of passing the Senate.

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