'Critical threat': Record share of Americans raising concerns about mass illegal immigration

An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on May 10, 2023.
An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on May 10, 2023. | HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

A record share of Americans view illegal immigration as a major threat in the United States, a new Gallup survey suggests. 

Gallup released the poll Tuesday based on responses collected from 1,016 U.S. adults from Feb. 1-20. Respondents were asked about their views on the issue of immigration, specifically inquiring whether they viewed illegal immigration as a "critical threat," an "important but not critical threat" or "not an important threat at all."

The share of Americans who characterized illegal immigration as a critical threat facing the U.S. reached a record high of 55% this year. An additional 31% told pollsters they saw the issue as "important but not critical," while 14% said they considered illegal immigration as "not important." The percentage of respondents who viewed illegal immigration as "not important" tied with the record low last measured in 2004.

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Broken down by partisan affiliation, 90% of Republicans cited illegal immigration as a critical threat, along with 54% of independents and 29% of Democrats. Smaller shares of Republicans (84%), independents (40%) and Democrats (20%) said the same last year.

A plurality of Americans (28%) said that they thought illegal immigration was the most important problem facing the country. By contrast, a January poll asking Americans to weigh in on what problems they viewed as most serious found "the government" and "immigration" were neck and neck as the top concerns. 

Twenty-one percent of those surveyed listed the government as the biggest challenge engulfing the U.S., with immigration at 20%.

"Immigration has ranked ahead of all other issues as the most important problem before, having last done so five years ago when there was a surge of attempted border crossings by Central American migrants," the Gallup report notes. "Immigration also ranked as the No. 1 problem in July and November 2018 and July 2014."

The Gallup survey comes as U.S. Customs and Border Patrol continues to report a record number of encounters between migrants at the United States-Mexico border and border enforcement officials. Data compiled by CBP shows that monthly land encounters at the Southwest border have consistently remained above 100,000 since February 2021, President Joe Biden's first full month in office.

Since Biden took office, law enforcement officials at the Southwest border have encountered more than 7 million illegal immigrants. The number of illegal immigrants who have entered the country in that time period exceeds the populations of 37 U.S. states, as measured in the 2020 U.S. Census.

The number of monthly illegal immigrant crossings at the Southwest border reached a record high of 301,983 in December 2023. The number of reported border crossings declined significantly to 176,205 in January 2024.

Concerns about illegal immigration reflect negatively on Biden's approval rating as he seeks reelection to a second term in the 2024 presidential election.

According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls taken since Jan. 3, Biden's net disapproval rating on the issue is 33.3 percentage points under water. His net disapproval rating on the issue is significantly lower than his overall net disapproval rating of 15 percentage points underwater, based on polls taken since Feb. 1.

Dissatisfaction with the Biden administration's handling of illegal immigration led to the impeachment of U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this month. The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives impeached Mayorkas on charges that he "repeatedly violated laws enacted by Congress regarding immigration and border security." 

Mayorkas' fate now rests in the hands of the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, where it will take the votes of two-thirds of senators to convict and remove him from office. The effort to oust Mayorkas is viewed as unlikely to succeed in light of the party-line vote to remove him in the U.S. House and the partisan makeup of the U.S. Senate, which consists of 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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