- The Washington Times - Friday, June 27, 2014

Forget about illegal immigration, plenty of Americans want less legal immigration.

About 41 percent of U.S. adults back a decrease in legal immigration, compared to 22 percent who want an increase and 33 percent satisfied with current levels, said a Gallup poll released Friday.

That’s a nearly 2-to-1 margin in favor of cutting the number of immigrants legally entering the country.

The political fight over illegal immigration has mostly drowned out the debate of legal immigration levels, though an expanded worker visa program is part of the proposed reforms that would also create a path to citizenship for illegals.

The small amount of Americans who favor increased immigration include just 14 percent of Republicans. About 27 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of independents also support increasing immigration, according to the poll.

“Americans’ views on immigration have varied a bit in the past 15 years, with the dominant view shifting between decreasing immigration and maintaining it at the current level,” the pollsters said. “Some of these changes may reflect the ebb and flow of Americans’ reactions to the 9/11 attacks in 2001 as well as rocketing unemployment in 2009, with both events triggering a temporary surge in anti-immigration sentiment.”

However, the longterm trend in the Gallop polling is a slow but steady increase in the size of the minority that supports increasing immigration, rising from 10 percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2012 and 22 percent today.

“Despite Americans’ resistance to increasing immigration, the great majority continue to view immigration in positive terms for the country, with 63 percent calling it a good thing. That is down from 2013’s high of 72 percent, but still exceeding the sub-60 percent readings found during the recent recession and, before that, in the wake of 9/11,” Gallup said.