Sorry, Donald Trump — Americans Know The Difference Between Terrorists And Immigrants

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee Immigration Reporter, Think Progress

Americans don’t conflate concerns about terrorism with a fear of immigrants, according to a new survey conducted by the nonpartisan group Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) — challenging the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from leading political figures in the aftermath of major terrorist events.

Terrorism concerns have increased about 18 percentage points over the past two years. In 2014, PRRI found that just 33 percent of Americans said they were worried about being affected by a terrorist attack. In the new survey, 51 percent of participants expressed concern that they or a family member could be a victim of terrorism.

At the same time, however, Americans haven’t embraced a harsher approach to immigrants. Roughly six in ten people told PRRI they support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — a rate that has remained about the same since 2013, when the Senate approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have included this policy.

It’s notable that rising terrorism concerns “have no discernible effect” on the public attitudes about this aspect of immigration reform, according to Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI and the author of The End of White Christian America.

“What it suggests is that Americans are thinking about these two things somewhat separately. Their concerns about terrorism don’t translate 1:1 into attitudes about immigration policy,” Jones told ThinkProgress.

The findings present a contrast to the xenophobic policies championed by presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has been quick to blame immigrants following prominent terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and most recently Orlando.

Trump has called for deporting the entire undocumented population and banning Muslims from entering the United States. After the tragedy in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, it took less than 12 hours for Trump to start fearmongering about immigrants from the Middle East.

But most Americans don’t favor responding to terrorism concerns this way. Nearly six in ten Americans oppose placing a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the country and oppose building a border wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico. And according to PRRI, 49 percent of Americans say the Democratic party best represents their views on immigration, compared to just 30 percent who say the same for Republicans.

That could be a problem for the Republican presidential candidate in the general election.

“The polls show why those things were winning strategies with Republican primary voters because they actually are quite popular among Republicans overall,” Jones said. “But the survey also suggests that Trump may run into a different kind of wall with independent voters and the public in general if he tries to bring in those issues as his leading issues into the general election… That’s not the winning profile of a general election.”

PRRI’s survey also found that Americans’ perception of immigrants do not come from their personal experiences. Rather, they are informed by partisan ideology. Only about one in five Americans said that immigrants are changing their own local community and way of life, though nearly twice as many said immigrants are changing American society as a whole.

“It shows you that those perceptions at the national level are not driven by concrete examples on the ground,” Jones said.


Reposted from ThinkProgress.

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee is an Immigration Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Middle East Studies and a M.A. in Psychology from New York University. A Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary, Esther is passionate about immigration issues from all sides of the debate. She is originally from Los Angeles, CA.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.


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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work