New Gallup Poll: Immigration Tops List Of National Issues, As Families Separated

(Photo/Creative Commons License/Michael Fleshman)

In a surprising development, a recently published Gallup Poll places immigration as the top issue in the country. Only one previous Gallup Poll placed it in the number 1 spot.

22 percent of Americans responding to the poll said that immigration was the top priority. As recently as last year, only 4 percent said it was the top problem area. Not much has changed in who immigrates and why, but the rhetoric surrounding immigration and the outrageous actions of the Trump administration in splitting up refugee families have made this a front burner issue.

It is hard to imagine that immigration now overshadows of Russian meddling, the decline of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and a looming trade war on people’s list of concerns. Yet, the non-stop fear mongering by the administration and its brutal assault on children’s rights have led immigration to outpace all other concerns.

Anyone reading the newspapers in June and July saw the surging interest in the subject. The largest protest rallies against the administration this summer have focused on family separation. Congressional representatives have made group pilgrimages to the border to inspect the Walmart housing the child refugees.

Elected officials at the local level are responding to the rising tide of concern among voters about the treatment of immigrant families, but the window for action may close soon. We have seen this before. When the Muslim Ban went into effect after the Trump inauguration, there was a similarly widespread response. A year and a half later, the modified Muslim Ban is in effect and refugee admissions from Syria are virtually nonexistent.

During a presidency in which each new day seems to bring a new outrage, the public may quickly lose sight of the attack on immigrants as it focuses on the ever-changing kaleidoscope of President Trump depredations. This is why it is so important to mobilize action at the local level right now.

Without the cooperation of local authorities, Trump’s anti-immigrant plans can’t be carried out. Right here on Long Island, the sheriff offices hold immigrants on administrative warrants for ICE, even if no criminal prosecution is pending against them. Nassau residents should call County Executive Laura Curran as soon as possible at 516-571-3131. Tell her to “End Nassau’s cooperation with ICE now.” Those in Suffolk can make the same call to Sheriff Errol Toulon at 631-852-2200 with the same message.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.