Number of Americans Who See Immigration as a Critical Threat to the United States at Lowest Level in Two Decades

CHICAGO, Oct. 11, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 2012 Chicago Council Survey reveals that over the last decade Americans have grown less concerned about large numbers of immigrants—legal or illegal—coming to live and work in the United States. According to the report from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a growing number of Americans support keeping legal immigration at its current level or increasing it. 

For the first time since the question was first asked by the Council in 1994, only a minority (40%) of Americans consider a large influx of immigrants and refugees a "critical threat" to the United States. Fewer now than ever recorded in Chicago Council Survey history (53%) say that "controlling and reducing illegal immigration" is a very important foreign policy goal for the United States. 

The recently released 2012 Chicago Council Survey results show that concern about many threats has lessened, including terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. However, immigration has seen the greatest decline of all threats currently asked about. Since 1994, public perceptions of immigration as a critical threat has declined 32 points, and reducing illegal immigration as a top goal has declined 19 points. 

Download the brief on American public opinion on immigration (PDF), which includes detailed findings on the following points:

  • Plurality of Americans support maintaining current immigration levels 
  • Republicans' concerns remain steady; Democrats and Independents less threatened 
  • Among public, bipartisan support is strong for immigration reform 
  • Midwesterners feel more threatened than broader American public

For more information or comment, please contact Dina Smeltz, senior fellow, Public Opinion and Global Affairs (; 202-294-9199).

Learn more and download the full 2012 Chicago Council Survey report, "Foreign Policy in the New Millennium." A report on a Midwest Immigration Survey is forthcoming. 

About The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922, is a prominent, independent and nonpartisan organization committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue, and public learning.

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