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Gallup: Americans’ views on immigration much more positive

Where have all the xenophobes gone?

Not so long ago, anti-immigration sentiment was said to be a powerful political force in this country.

Gallup SAYS that’s no longer the case:

President Barack Obama’s decision not to deport young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children comes at a time when Americans’ views toward immigration are much more positive than they have been in recent years. Currently, 66% say immigration is a “good thing” for the U.S. today, up from 59% last year and one percentage point off the high of 67% in 2006…

An update to one of Gallup’s longest-standing questions on immigration finds more Americans in favor of keeping levels the same (42%) than in favor of decreasing them (35%). For most of the past 40 years, the opposite has been true, with more calling for decreased immigration than keeping the status quo.

In fact, the 35% who now favor decreased immigration is the lowest Gallup has measured on this trend since 1965. At the same time, the 21% who favor increased immigration is the largest percentage Gallup has measured.

(Snip)

Gallup did find immigration ranking among the least important issues when Americans were asked which would be most important to their 2012 presidential vote. And 2% currently say it is the most important problem facing the country, down from a high of 19% in April 2006.

It is possible the issue could rise in salience in the near term, though, given the Obama administration’s recent move, and the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on the Arizona immigration law.

The way Americans react to those events could cause a change in their immigration attitudes, but for now, Americans have a more positive orientation toward immigration than at any point in at least six years.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Republican backlash against Obama’s immigration decision has been surprisingly MUTED.

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