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A higher percentage of the U.S. public wants to see increased immigration than those who desire to see a decrease for the first time in polling history, according to a Gallup report published July 1.

Thirty-four percent of respondents say they want immigration to the U.S. to increase, compared to 28% who want it to decrease and 36% percent who say they prefer immigration levels to remain the same.

Since 1965, a significantly higher number of the public has wanted less immigration than those who desired more. The disparity reached a height of 65% wanting less to 7% wanting more in 1995.

Over the past 15 years, the gap has narrowed, with almost equal numbers affirming both positions by 2018 and 2019.

Significant differences become evident when respondents are sorted by political affiliation.

Fifty percent of Democrats say they would like to see an increase in immigration, compared to only 13% of Republicans. Around one-third of independents (34%) affirmed their desire for increased immigration.

The overall percentage of U.S. adults who say “immigration is a good thing for this country today” reached an all-time high of 77% this year, while those who say immigration is a bad thing remained for the third year at an all-time low of 19%.

Sorting responses by political affiliation on this question yielded notable differences, with 89% of Democrats, 78% of independents and 62% of Republicans affirming immigration as a good thing for the nation.

Good Faith Media reached out to several faith leaders for their reaction and response:

“Apart from the issue of whether the U.S. population wants to see increased immigration or not, is the more basic fact that God has given this planet to all of us without distinction and that people therefore have an intrinsic, God-given right to immigrate when circumstances so require,” said Anthony B. Taylor, bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas.

“Parents have an obligation to protect their children and provide for them, and if they cannot do so in their place of origin, they are obligated to migrate to a place where they can do so,” he said. “I hope these statistics reflect a growing compassion among Americans for the plight of our brothers and sisters who come to us in their time of need.”

Imad Enchassi, imam and president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, observed, “Abraham, Moses and The Prophet himself were at times immigrants.”

“The Quran teaches us to feed, clothe and do good by travelers and strangers,” he said. “Hospitality is at the very heart of Islam and many faiths worldwide.”

“Immigrants are good for the U.S.,” said Sue Smith, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel who works with LUCHA Ministries in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “The majority of immigrants come with a strong work ethic, looking for opportunities they didn’t have in their home countries – to educate their children, to hold a job and earn a fair wage.”

“Immigrants often bring strong, positive cultural values and remind us of the importance of family, hard work, faith and integrity,” she said. “They encourage their children to have dreams and to live better lives than their parents had. They embrace and believe in the American dream.”

“Immigration should be encouraged, and immigrants welcomed,” Smith said. “We will grow stronger and better as we embrace diversity and help newcomers gain a strong footing in our nation. They have much to teach us about becoming better Americans.”

For Fred Guttman, rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, North Carolina, the issue is not about immigration, “this is about who we are as a nation.”

“Are we a cruel nation that separates immigrant children and puts them into cages? Are we a cruel nation that will absolutely turn away some because of their ethnicity or the color of their skin, especially when such people are seeking a better life economically and the right to live in security from murderous gangs?” he asked. “Are we a cruel nation which seeks to expel 800,000 DACA recipients? Are we a cruel nation which seeks to overturn the Affordable Health Care Act in the middle of a horrible pandemic?”

“The answer to these questions is ‘No!’” Guttman said. “We are a decent, God-loving nation, made up of people who believe that human beings are created in God’s image and who deserve to be treated as such. Cruelty – this is not who we are!”

Elket Rodriguez, an immigration attorney in Texas, noted the survey is a reflection of “the natural result of the spread of globalization, and the rise of a generation that is increasingly connected through social media with people from other parts of the world.”

“My generation has lost the fear of foreigners, immigrants and refugees,” he said. “Slowly but surely, the stigma that immigrants are the root cause of all of the problems in our country is quickly fading. The notion that immigration is strictly a legal issue, or a matter of national security, is also being questioned.”

“That virtual interaction with people from other countries is allowing us to have a deeper understanding of the humanity, the dignity and the needs of immigrants,” said Rodriguez, who is the immigrant and refugee advocacy and missions specialist at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. “At the same time, we are starting to witness the competitive, the cultural and the economic advantages that immigrants bring to our nation.”

The margin of error for the Gallup survey is plus-or-minus 4%.

The full report is available here. Topline results are available here.

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