Meanwhile, proposed legislation by conservative members of Congress would include actions to cut back on the number of immigrants allowed to enter the U.S. legally. Republican legislators are facing a public that is largely supportive of immigration into the U.S., in general. In all but one year since Gallup started asking this question in 2001, majorities of Americans across party lines have viewed immigration as positive for the U.S. The exception came in 2002, when slightly less than half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents thought immigration was a good thing, although 58% of Democrats and Democratic leaners held this view. So a majority nationally, 52%, were still positive. This was recorded about nine months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks were committed by hijackers holding legal visas. Currently, 85% of Democrats and Democratic leaners and 65% of Republicans and Republican leaners view immigration positively.
Given attempts by the Trump administration to cut back on legal immigration, Gallup tested an alternative wording to this question for the first time this year — asking half of the respondents about “legal immigration,” whereas the trend question does not specify a particular type of immigration. Americans are more likely to support legal immigration, with 84% describing it as a good thing, nine percentage points higher than the reading for “immigration.”