September 16, 2013

Public ranks the deficit much higher than immigration overhaul as a priority


About half of Americans believe it is essential for the president and Congress to enact major immigration legislation this year.

Four of the issues that President Obama mentioned prominently in his State of the Union address included dealing with the deficit, overhauling immigration policy, pushing through major gun legislation and tackling climate change.

DN_Immig_PriorityEarlier this year, there was significant movement on immigration, with the Senate voting 68-to-32 in June to pass a comprehensive bill that would provide a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally and additional spending to tighten the nation’s borders. The bill always faced tough sledding in the Republican-controlled House, but now, with the challenge of Syria on the front-burner as well as a looming fight over the debt ceiling and other budget issues, further action may be pushed back, if it happens at all.

A sizable number of Americans (51%) said in a survey conducted in February that it was “essential” for the president and Congress to act on major immigration this year, while 37% said it was something that could be done in the next few years, and 7% said it should not be done.

But even though 75% of the public says current policies need at least major changes,  immigration ranks much lower with the public than the deficit as far as the urgency of action this year. Seven-in-ten Americans said action on the deficit was essential this year.

Among Obama’s other State of the Union priorities, less than half of Americans saw major gun legislation or new climate change policies as essential for action by year’s end. The Senate defeated in April a gun control measure that would have expanded background checks. In June, Obama made a major speech announcing measures to control greenhouse gases. However, last month, Obama’s EPA chief, Gina McCarthy, said that the administration might resort to administrative action to achieve its aims in the face of congressional inaction.

Category: Daily Number

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a senior editor at Pew Research Center.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Harris4 years ago

    I really learned a lot lately about public opinion and time . I wish
    you would give us a crash course.
    It seems that when you get a barrage of publicity as you did
    on immigration the public gets caught up in the moment
    and the feeling that others must have thought this through
    and I might as well not fight it.
    Boehner was extremely smart just slowing it down and let
    let you hear the details which of course are never as
    great as the original noble premise.

    In fact there should be a one year waiting period on passing anything
    so the advertising industry doesn’t totally run the country .