Immigration Alarm: Perfect Polling or the ‘Politics of Fear’? | National News

Recent polling suggests tens of millions of Americans are fretting about the situation at the southern border, with immigration vastly trumping traditional kitchen-table topics as the most important problem facing the country today.

Just this week, a Gallup survey showed immigration garnering more concern among Americans than common targets of ire like the economy and the government in general. A day earlier, Monmouth University Poll results showed a majority of those surveyed support building a border wall, marking the first time that threshold was reached since researchers started asking the question in 2015.

But negative immigration-related attitudes – particularly ahead of what’s expected to be a fiercely contested presidential election – can simply be tied to the fact that Americans’ attention is centered on the topic “at this moment,” says Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a political scientist and professor at George Mason University.

Both Sides of the Border

TOPSHOT - People cross a bridge in Playas de Tijuana before the Tijuana Estuarine Research Reserve (background) in San Diego, California, February 13, 2017. 
Attention Editors: This image is part of an ongoing AFP photo project documenting the life on the two sides of the Mexico/US border simultaneously by two photographers traveling for ten days from California to Texas on the US side and from Baja California to Tamaulipas on the Mexican side between February 13 and 22, 2017. You can find all the images with the keyword: BORDERPROJECT2017 on our wire and on / AFP / GUILLERMO ARIAS        (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)

And just because politicians and news outlets are portraying an “immigration spectacle” at the southern border doesn’t mean there’s a tangible crisis impacting the day-to-day lives of Americans, she adds.

“It’s more about the narrative. It’s more about the politics of fear,” Correa-Cabrera says. “It’s perception. So the polls reflect the perception of the public, and not necessarily the reality.”

To be sure, similar polling perceptions on immigration date back further. Last summer, Gallup noted the percentage of respondents who think immigration is a “good thing” had fallen to its lowest level since 2014. The organization also found that only 26% of Americans wanted to see immigration levels increased, while 41% wanted a decrease – the widest gap since 2016.

At the same time, the current political focus that appears to be resonating with a growing number of Americans has pushed President Joe Biden to become more aggressive in his messaging about immigration as it becomes a growing threat to his reelection prospects. A month ago, Biden promised to shut down the border if Congress passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that was later torpedoed in Congress amid opposition from former President Donald Trump, who has heavily focused on immigration in his campaign and vowed to launch a massive deportation effort if reelected. House Republicans earlier this month also voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accusing him of willfully failing to handle the migrant crisis on the southern border.

On Thursday, Biden and Trump – each of whom is their party’s likely presidential nominee – were headed to the southern border, with Biden’s visit to Brownsville, Texas, marking his second border visit since taking office. Trump was headed to Eagle Pass, a Texas community that’s served as a flashpoint for GOP governors who’ve accused Biden of failing to do enough to stem border crossings.

“It’s being driven by politicians,” Rachael Cobb, an associate professor and chair of political science and legal studies at Suffolk University, says of the polling trends. “Congress did try to solve it, or rather, attempts were made. Trump…

Read More: Immigration Alarm: Perfect Polling or the ‘Politics of Fear’? | National News

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