Skip to comments.Public, elite differ on immigration (New study says people anxious, leaders unconcerned)
Posted on 12/21/2002 3:08:33 PM PST by Michael2001
Ordinary Americans are deeply concerned about the nation's current level of immigration and consider it to be a threat to national security, but elite U.S. opinion leaders appear unconcerned, according to a new study.
The Center for Immigration Studies, a non-partisan think tank that examines the impact of immigration on the U.S., said it found in its recent study that "an enormous gap exists between the American people and opinion leaders on the issue of immigration a gap that seems to be increasing."
"The gap between the opinions of the American people and their leaders on immigration is enormous," the study said. Researchers "found that 60 percent of the public regard the present level of immigration to be a 'critical threat to the vital interests of the United States,' compared to only 14 percent of the nation's leadership a 46 percentage-point gap."
In 1998, CIS said 55 percent of the public viewed high immigration as a "critical threat," compared to 18 percent of opinion leaders.
"The results indicate that there is no other foreign policy-related issue on which the American people and their leaders disagreed more profoundly than immigration," the study said. "Even on such divisive issues as globalization or strengthening the United Nations, the public and the elite are much closer together than they are on immigration."
The study, co-authored by Steven Camarota, director of research at CIS, and Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA Education, is titled, "Elite vs. Public Opinion: An Examination of Divergent Views on Immigration."
"The very large difference between the elite and public opinion makes what has transpired on immigration in recent years much more understandable," said Camarota. "It explains why border enforcement increased in the 1990s, but at the same time, enforcement within the United States was phased out."
Beck whose nonprofit group opposes mass-immigration policies said the findings indicate that "continued deep public dissatisfaction with current immigration policy indicates that this is an issue just waiting for a candidate to champion and thereby reap a significant political benefit."
That's especially true, Beck said, because "it could be marketed as 'anti-elite' and more in sync with the American people, a message that has traditionally been well-received by voters."
The report is based on data from a recent survey on foreign-policy issues conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. The survey, taken in May through July of this year, was based on 2,800 interviews of ordinary Americans and a cross-section of 400 "opinion leaders," including members of Congress, the administration, church leaders, business executives, union leaders, journalists, academics and leaders of major interest groups.
The survey also found that President Bush's calls for granting amnesty to an estimated 3 million illegal aliens currently residing in the U.S. is hurting him politically. Though 53 percent say he is handling foreign policy well, only 27 percent believe he is adequately addressing immigration.
Also, 55 percent say legal immigration should be reduced, while only 27 percent say it should remain at current levels.
Of the biggest foreign-policy challenges facing the nation, Americans ranked illegal immigration sixth on a list of 69 concerns, while elites ranked it 26th.
Researchers were unclear as to why the public and elites differ so greatly on immigration, but one possible explanation was fear of job loss.
"Other areas in which the public and elites disagree are those dealing with protecting the jobs of American workers and economic competition from other countries," said CIS. "This strongly suggests that one of the main reasons ordinary Americans are concerned about immigration is that they fear job competition."
Class division could also have an effect.
are overwhelmingly educated and, compared to the public, much more affluent. Thus at least part of the reason for the difference of opinion stems of the class interests of the two groups," the group said.
This has always been the case. I just think more Americans are aware of the dangers that our country faces in the light of Sept 11th.
That was a cheap study. . . they just dropped in here for a few hours.
I don't know for sure when we got the mess we have now, but it surely did get worse with the 1996 effort to register a lot of new Dem. voters. We need a system for immigration and guest workers. What we have now is in such disarray that it's hard to see how it can be fixed without just declaring a moratorium and starting over.
Is there any gov't agency that the clintoons didn't leave in total disarray?
That is to say, most people can't afford to live in gated communities, being driven around in bulletproof limos and surrounded by bodyguards.
In other words, most people have to live with the consequences of illegal immigration. But "opinion leaders" aren't like most people.
Not quite. More bodies means more pressure on already scarce clean water supplies, more sewage and garbage generated, and hence tighter land-use restrictions.
Elites have enough money to get around land-use planning laws. Some city and county planning officials can be bought off with bribes.
It is the middle-class who are being victimized by this blatant attempt to impose tyrannical restraints on the free use of one's own real property! More people just worsens the situation.