Migrant Worker in Florida
A migrant worker takes a break from toiling on farmland in Homestead, Florida AFP

Immigration remains the main concern among Americans during this electoral year, topping the list of a monthly Gallup survey for the third time in a row, the pollster said on Tuesday.

Asked an open-ended question about what they thought was the most important problem facing the U.S. at the moment, over a quarter of respondents (27%) said immigration.

The figure is slightly lower than February and March (28% in both months) but still nine percentage points above the second choice, the functioning of government.

Gallup added that it's the first time since it started this poll in the year 2000 that immigration has remained the top issue for multiple successive months.

However, the issue is also highly polarizing at the moment, with Republicans much more likely than Democrats to name immigration as the most important issue.

Immigration remains as Americans' top concern in March
Immigration remains as Americans' top concern in March Gallup

"In the latest poll, 48% of Republicans, compared with 8% of Democrats, mention immigration. Independents fall roughly in the middle, at 25%," Gallup said.

It noted that Republicans' mention of the issue has dropped from February, when it reached a record-high of 57%, but it reached a new high among independents, 25%. It was 8% for Democrats.

Looking at the polarization the issue generates, Gallup noted that "the gaps between Republicans and Democrats mentioning it this year are greater than for any other issue in the past 25 years," ranking above even the Covid-19 pandemic.

Immigration-related news also continue to dominate the news cycle, the latest issue revolving around the fact that San Diego has become the new epicenter of unlawful crossings in the country.

County Supervisor Jim Desmond said that on a single day last week authorities apprehended 2,000 people crossing within the sector.

A Border Patrol spokesperson added that the area is averaging over 1,000 illegal entries a day, reaching a total of almost 34,000 in March. Considering that Border Patrol reported some 137,000 apprehensions in March, this means that almost a quarter of the total were recorded in San Diego.

"Human smugglers have identified California, particularly the San Diego border sector, as the path of least resistance for illegal immigration," Desmond said in a news release issued by his office last week. "Border Patrol has inadvertently become the 'Uber' for migrants entering San Diego County, and the County is the travel agent," he added.

However, the other side of the coin are repeated reports showing the positive impact of immigration in the economy. A recent Congressional Budget Office report estimated higher levels of immigration than previously thought, according to Bloomberg News. With over a million people entering the country each year, the news outlet explains that this stands to create increased demand for housing and a wide range of other goods and services.

As immigration continues to be a present trend in 2024, economists are focusing on four specific factors that could drive to more economic growth.

The labor market is one of the areas looked at by economists when assessing the impact of immigration, as many jobs economists see immigrants as more likely to take— including construction, household cleaning, home health aides and more— are showing strong growth, with employment levels in those sectors at or above their pre-pandemic trend.

Spending and inflation are other factors looked at by analysts.

With more people entering the country, there's also more demand for necessities like food, clothing and shelter. In March, retail sales topped forecasts and inflation-adjusted consumer spending advanced by the most this year.

Immigration is also set to affect the housing market, whether it is directly or indirectly. While the newcomer likely won't be looking to buy homes soon, analysts are looking at renting resources to see if and where prices might increase.

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