The Corner

Politics & Policy

How Much Immigration Do Americans Want?

I allude, in my latest Bloomberg article on immigration, to Gallup’s finding that 35 percent of Americans want less immigration, 38 percent want to keep current levels, and 24 percent want more immigration.

A Harvard/Harris poll recently asked respondents for their sense of the absolute number of immigrants they thought the U.S. should take each year. Thirty-five percent said fewer than 250,000; 19 percent said 25,000-500,000; and 18 percent said 500,000 to less than one million. Since we take roughly a million immigrants each year, that way of asking the question yields a picture of public opinion much more pleasing to the restrictionist side of the immigration debate.

But the question didn’t provide respondents with the current immigration level or the size of the U.S. population. Some pollster should consider offering that background information and then asking the Harvard/Harris question.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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