Asylum-seeking migrants wait at the border between Mexico and the U.S., as seen from El Paso
Asylum-seeking migrants wait at the border between Mexico and the U.S., as seen from El Paso. Photo by: Reuters/Carlos Barria

As immigration continues to play a dominant role in the U.S. political conversation, the issue ranks atop of Americans' concerns according to a new poll conducted by Gallup.

Concretely, immigration topped the list in one of the survey's categories: when asked to name, unprompted, what they believe is the most important problem facing the country today, 28% mentioned immigration.

It was the same figure as in February, tying it for a historic high ever since the pollster started including the issue in 1981. Another salient data point is the fact that immigration has jumped in importance for a large number of people lately, considering that the figure was 20% in January of this year.

The eight percentage point jump is a more than 33% increase in just one month and vaulted the issue to the top of the list by a large margin, relegating "The government/Poor leadership" to the second place. The economy in general and the high cost of living and inflation followed suit in third and fourth place, respectively.

Unprompted views
Unprompted concerns Gallup

The scenario was different when respondents were given a list of potential concerns to choose from. In this case, illegal immigration ranked sixth, with 48% of people saying it worried them a great deal and 18% that it did so a fair amount. The remaining 34% said it didn't worry them at all, a higher figure than most other issues listed.

Inflation topped the list, with 55% of people saying price increases concern them a great deal choosing the "a fair amount" option. Crime and violence; hunger and homelessness; the economy; the availability and affordability of healthcare; and federal spending and the budget deficit all clocked in above immigration, all of them with over 50% of respondents saying they worried them a great deal.

As for the issues that ranked below illegal immigration, they were: drug use (45%), the Social Security system (43%) and the possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S. (43%). "In addition, fewer than four in 10 worry a great deal about the availability and affordability of energy (37%) and the quality of the environment (37%). Race relations (35%) and unemployment (33%) garner the least concern, with about a third highly worried about each," Gallup added.

Looking at trends, the pollster noted that "Americans grew less concerned about two economic issues over the past year: the economy in general (down eight points) and inflation, specifically (down six points)," decreases that accompanied a sustained drop in inflation and a period.

Concerns growing
The two issues where concerns have grown over the past year Gallup

In contrast, immigration and the possibility of a terrorist attack taking place in the country grew in terms of concern levels. Looking at the former, it increased by seven percentage points between March 2023 and the present (34 to 41%).

The jump can be explained mostly by a "near doubling of concern among Democrats, from 14% to 27%," as it has "edged slightly higher among independents (rising from 39% to 44%), while it has been steady at a high level among Republicans (74% in 2023 and 73% today)."

Looking at partisan differences, the survey shows that Republicans are much more likely that Democrats to worry a great deal about most of the issues. Immigration is second in this list, with a difference of 46 points, only surpassed by federal spending and the deficit (49 points).

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