Economic Growth and Job Creation Message Resonates Across Party Lines
Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan majority of American voters supports welcoming more skilled immigrants to the United States, according to a first-of-its kind national survey of over 2,000 registered voters released today by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG). The survey was designed to provide an in-depth look at how voters respond to a range of issues, messaging, and legislative proposals related specifically to skilled immigration, which plays a uniquely important role in U.S. innovation, economic growth, and job creation.
“Attracting the world’s top talent isn’t just crucial to America’s economic future, it is broadly popular with voters as well,” said EIG President and CEO John Lettieri. “Even as Americans remain deeply frustrated with the state of the U.S. immigration system, this survey reveals that voters of all stripes would welcome new policies designed to maximize the economic benefits that skilled immigrants bring to our economy. The message from voters is simple: We want immigration reform that grows our economy and creates jobs for American workers. It’s time for lawmakers to listen.”
Seven in 10 voters surveyed support increasing the number of skilled immigrants—defined as those with a high level of educational achievement or specialized professional skills—with 60 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Democrats, and 72 percent of Independents in support. Fully three-quarters of voters responded favorably when increasing skilled immigration was linked to promoting economic growth and creating jobs for American workers. This was the most popular of any of the reasons tested in the survey, and drew support from large majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike. Research shows that immigrants are 80 percent more likely to start new companies relative to native-born Americans.
Additional survey takeaways:
- Immigration reform is a top policy priority for voters of both parties. Across party lines, nearly 8 in 10 voters indicate that immigration reform is a top or important policy priority in the next 12 months (82% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats).
- Voters are evenly split on the benefits of immigration in general at both a national and a local level. However, large shares of voters are either unaware or unsure of the economic effects, underscoring the opportunity to significantly improve public support.
- An incremental approach to immigration reform carries roughly as much support as an all-at-once comprehensive overhaul. While 43% of respondents favored comprehensive immigration reform, 41% said they would support passing individual policy reforms that have bipartisan support. Of those supportive of piecemeal reform, 76% view improving immigration policy as an important issue for Congress over the next year, and 83% support increasing the number of skilled immigrants in the United States.
- Support for skilled immigration carries little political risk for policymakers. A plurality (38%) would be more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate who supports more skilled immigration, compared to only 18% who would be less likely to support said candidate.
- Voters across party lines largely support the creation of three policy pathways for increasing skilled immigration. A bipartisan majority of voters support a “Start-up Visa” to attract entrepreneurs to move to the United States to start and build their companies (67% support); a ”Place-Based Visa” to draw global talent to U.S. regions experiencing demographic and economic decline (66% support); and a “STEM Grad Visa” to retain international graduate students after graduation (73% support).
Explore the survey findings at eig.org/skilled-immigration-survey and the topline survey results here.
EIG partnered with Echelon Insights and GBAO Strategies to conduct a nationally representative survey of 2,025 registered voters aged 18+. The survey was conducted August 12-15, 2022 via samples drawn from Lucid, a national survey-based marketplace. This is the first post-pandemic, in-depth survey of American voter’s views on skilled immigration and the creation of three new visa pathways for skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants.
About the Economic Innovation Group (EIG)
The Economic Innovation Group (EIG) is a bipartisan public policy organization dedicated to forging a more dynamic and inclusive American economy. Headquartered in Washington, DC, EIG produces nationally-recognized research and works with policymakers to develop ideas that empower workers, entrepreneurs, and communities.