New Gallup Poll Finds Americans Now Consider Immigration the Country’s Top Problem

By: Alex Trent | Published: Feb 27, 2024

A newly released poll from Gallup shows American attitudes are shifting on the issue of immigration. Immigration saw a surge in concern among Americans, soaring to the top of the list of America’s perceived problems.

The concern for immigration among Americans jumped significantly in February, putting it at the highest level on this poll since 2019.

Immigration in on People’s Minds

According to the February Gallup poll, more Americans have reported that immigration is the most important issue facing the country.

Migrant workers moving about in a camp.

Source: Julie Ricard/Unsplash

There has been a dramatic change in perception in just a month. In the recent poll, 28% of Americans reported immigration as the most important problem, compared to 20% who did back in the same poll from January.


Republicans and Independents are Driving the Change While Democrats are Unchanged

Traditionally, Republican-affiliated Americans are the ones who often cite immigration as one of their top problems. Gallup reported that 57% of Republicans listed immigration as their top issue in February, up from 37% in January.

A red and blue donkey beside a red and blue elephant, symbols and the Republican and Democrat party, against a black background.

Source: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Concern for immigration among Independent voters increased by 16% from January, with very little change from Democrats. Only 10% of Democrats reported immigration being their top issue in February.

Other Problems Reported

While immigration was at the top of the list on this month’s Gallup poll, there were other problems that saw significant concern among respondents.

The U.S. Capitol building is located in Washington D.C.

Source: Elijah Mears/Unsplash

20% of respondents reported that the government was their top concern in February. 12% said that the economy in general was the most important problem while another 11% specifically named inflation as the thing most concerning to them.

History of the Survey

According to Gallup, the 28% rating for immigration on this month’s poll makes it tied for the highest-ever level for the issue since Gallup started cataloging mentions of immigration in 1981.

A view of the southern border wall of the United States.

Source: Barbara Zandoval/Unsplash

Previously immigration ranked first on the poll in July and November 2018 as well as in July 2014. The previous record high for immigration on the poll was 27%, achieved in July 2019.

Highest Border Crossings on Record

These attitudes on immigration from Americans come in the midst of a massive influx of immigrants crossing the United States border with Mexico. AP News reported that in December, illegal border crossings reached historic highs.

A Border Patrol Agent dealing with a border crossing.

Source: CBP Photography/Wikimedia

Images and videos of illegal border crossings saw mainstream coverage, with many Americans starting to become aware of the issue.


US Border Authorities' Reaction in January

In response to the record-high numbers, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) instituted increased enforcement actions.

A border patrol sign resting near a fence.

Source: Greg Bulla/Unsplash

“CBP has taken significant steps to surge personnel and resources to impacted areas and address challenges we are experiencing across the southwest border. Encounter numbers continue to fluctuate, as smugglers and bad actors continue to spread falsehoods and show complete disregard for the safety and well-being of vulnerable migrants,” said a CBP statement in January.


First Two Weeks in January Saw a Decline

While December saw historic illegal crossing numbers, in January the crossing numbers dipped significantly. According to CBP, their enforcement efforts contributed to a significant decrease in border crossings at the beginning of January.

A road running near the American-Mexico border wall.

Alejandro Cartagena/Unsplash

“Consistent with historical trends and enhanced enforcement, the first two weeks of January saw an over 50% decrease in southwest border encounters between ports of entry according to preliminary figures.”


Mexican Authorities are Helping Out

Another factor that likely contributed to decreased border crossings in January is the ramping up of enforcement actions on the Mexican side of the border.

A police car in Mexico.

Source: Jmagno1998/Wikimedia

AP News reported that Mexico’s immigration agency had sent people away from the border crossing region through a series of at least 22 flights. The Mexican government also sent over 300 migrants away on removal flights to Venezuela.


Texas' Enforcement Actions

One flashpoint in the southern border crisis has been the town of Eagle Pass, Texas. Republicans Texas Governor Greg Abbot recently kicked up the drama by defying orders from the Biden administration to deconstruct razor wire fencing and other harmful barriers in the popular border crossing spot.

Greg Abbott speaking in 2012.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

This led to a standoff between federal authorities and Texas, resulting in 25 state governors announcing an intent to support Texas’ efforts to defend its borders. (via Newsweek)


Biden Visiting the Border

The issue has become so spotlighted that President Biden himself will visit the southern border in a rare visit on Thursday. (via The New York Times) Biden is facing a tense presidential reelection campaign in the fall. With this issue at the top of voter’s minds, he has to strike a delicate balance to curry favor.

Joe Biden speaks on stage to a crowd of supporters.

Source: Michael Stokes/Wikimedia

Biden has to present himself as someone who is taking the border seriously to assage the American public’s concerns while at the same time not alienating his Democratic voting base who traditionally oppose increased border restrictions.


Trump is Visiting Too

According to NBC, former President Donald Trump is also visiting the US-Mexico border, on the same day as Biden no less. Biden’s trip will see him visiting Brownsville, Texas. Donald Trump on the other hand will be visiting the area of Eagle Pass, which is 300 miles away from where Biden will be.

Donald Trump does a dance on stage at a campaign rally in New York.

Source: Liam Enea/Wikimedia

Trump plans to speak at the contentious border crossing area, using it as a backdrop to boost his campaign as it represents a resistance to the Biden Administration.