65% of Americans support Trump's pause on immigration during COVID-19: poll

Travellers who had been aboard the Braemar cruise ship, operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, and wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against covid-19, react as they arrive at Heathrow Airport in London on March 19, 2020.
Travellers who had been aboard the Braemar cruise ship, operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, and wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against covid-19, react as they arrive at Heathrow Airport in London on March 19, 2020. | TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

A majority of Americans — as much as 65 percent — favor a temporary pause on most immigration to the United States as the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to two separate new surveys. 

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released Tuesday shows that even though a majority of Americans they surveyed seemingly disapprove of President Trump’s response to the outbreak, they approve of his plan to temporarily halt nearly all immigration to the U.S. 

The survey of 1,008 Americans was launched after Trump announced on April 20 that he planned to pause immigration during the pandemic to protect high skilled jobs for the tens of millions of Americans who've filed for unemployment in recent weeks. 

However, the survey was launched before the details of the executive order were made public two days later on April 22. 

Respondents were asked if they support or oppose “temporarily blocking nearly all immigration” into the U.S. during the coronavirus outbreak.”

With over six in 10 respondents saying that they support such a plan, 34 percent said they oppose.

Broken down by self-identified party affiliation, 83 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Independents and nearly half (49 percent) of Democrats said they support a temporary ban.

The poll also shows consensus between races as a majority of white respondents (67 percent) and nonwhite respondents (61 percent) support the proposal. 

According to the survey’s co-director, University of Maryland government and politics professor Michael Hanmer, a majority of 18-to 29-year-olds are also supportive of the idea to temporarily block nearly all immigration. 

Another poll released last week by Rasmussen Reports found similar results. 

In a survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted between April 22 and April 23, the research group found that 57 percent favor a temporary halt to most immigration because of the economic impact of the coronavirus. 

The poll showed that 31 percent opposed the idea and 13 percent were undecided. 

The survey also found that 52 percent agreed and 38 percent disagreed with Trump’s rationale for the immigration freeze: to “help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs.”

The findings come as polling in recent years has suggested that most Americans view immigration is a “good thing.” 

“One way for people to deal with the reality that so many scientific and policy questions have yet to be answered is to look to concrete solutions,” Hanmer said. 

On April 22, Trump signed the order restricting various categories of immigrants from entering the U.S. for 60 days, such as those who are not already inside the country and don’t have a valid immigrant visa to travel to the U.S. 

Those barred from entering the U.S. during this period include family members of green card holders and adult children of U.S. citizens. 

The order exempts spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, health care workers, immigrant investors, special immigrant visa-holders and other categories of immigrants such as those essential to criminal investigations.

Although Democrats widely and repeatedly criticized Trump’s China travel ban that was also expanded to include Europe to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that she thinks the Trump administration should have banned U.S. citizens and green card holders from returning to the U.S. from China, where the virus originated. Pelosi's suggestion that U.S. citizens should be banned from returning home is unconstitutional.

Trump issued partial travel restriction in January barring Chinese foreign nationals from coming to the U.S. Pelosi told CNN that the ban allowed U.S. citizens and green card holders to return home from China. 

“If you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation of an epidemic, then shut the door,” Pelosi said Sunday. 

Pelosi had previously slammed Trump's travel restrictions as "outrageous" and "un-American."

The Washington Post survey also found that 52 percent of respondents rated Trump’s response to the virus as “not so good” or “poor.” Meanwhile, 47 percent rated the president’s response to the pandemic as “excellent” or “good.” 

When asked about their state governors, 77 percent of respondents rated their governors’ responses as “excellent” or “good,” while 22 percent rated the responses as “not so good” or “poor.”

Sixty-six percent of respondents said that they think current restrictions on how stores and other businesses operate in their states are “appropriate.” Seventeen percent felt the restrictions were “too restrictive” and 16 percent felt they were “not restrictive enough.”

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

or Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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