A majority of Americans in every state do not support mass deportation, according to a survey conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released Wednesday, cutting against President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration authorizing the expulsion of undocumented immigrants.
The poll — conducted as part of PRRI’s 2016 American Values Atlas (AVA) survey of 40,000 interviews spanning all 50 states — found only one in ten young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 and one in nine seniors over the age of 65 support an immigration system to “identify and deport” undocumented immigrants. White Americans were twice as likely, at 20 percent, to support mass deportation than other racial groups. Along the political divide, deportation was more supported by Republicans (28 percent) than by Democrats (8 percent).
“Lost amid the current rhetoric surrounding immigration reform is one fact: Very few Americans prefer deporting the 11 million immigrants currently living in the country illegally,” says PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones. “Even majorities of Republicans and those living in the reddest states favor allowing these immigrants a chance to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements.”
The poll also found about 64 percent of all Americans support a pathway for undocumented immigrants to become citizens “provided they meet certain requirements,” with the strongest support from black Americans, Latino Americans, and white Americans.
The survey findings call into question the level of public support for Trump’s broad brush assertions that undocumented immigrants, particularly those coming across the U.S. Mexico border, could be criminals, rapists, drug dealers, and terrorists.
Some Trump supporters are already facing regret and outrage that immigrants in their communities have been deported. One woman, a Trump voter, believed that her undocumented husband would be an exception to the president’s crackdown on unauthorized immigrants since he paid taxes and gave jobs to people. He was deported. Residents of West Frankfort, Illinois, a town that handily went to Trump during the 2016 general election, is similarly fighting the deportation proceedings of an undocumented restaurant owner they believe to be an exception, a man who rushed to prepare meals for firefighters fighting a two-alarm blaze.
Still, the Trump administration is pushing forth with its decision to deport immigrants, even those without criminal offenses. Last week, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly rescinded an already dead-in-the-water-and-tied-up-in-the-courts Obama-era immigration directive that would have provided deportation relief for immigrant parents of U.S. citizens. And acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan said before a House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee, “If we wait for them to violate yet another law against a citizen of this country, then it’s too late. We shouldn’t wait for them to become a criminal.” In the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, the ICE agency deported 41,318 immigrants, nearly 11,000 of whom were immigrants without criminal records.