Since the launch of his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump has repeatedly drawn links between immigration and crime, defending his demand for the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico by repeatedly accusing migrants and asylum seekers of “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime” into the country.
But despite the president’s repeated claims, a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found nearly 80 percent of Americans believe immigrants are “no more to blame for crime than other groups.”
The poll, which was conducted across 18 countries–including the U.S., where 1,500 people were surveyed from May 14 to June 15, 2018–also found that the U.S. came second only to Canada in terms of having the largest percentage of residents who did not believe immigrants were more to blame for crime than other groups.
In Canada, 80 percent of people said they believed immigrants were no more to blame for crime, compared with 17 percent who said they believed immigrants in the country were more to blame. Meanwhile in the U.S., 77 percent of people surveyed said they believed the former, while 19 percent said they subscribed to the latter belief.
In a statement to Newsweek, Pew Research Center researcher Ana Gonzalez-Barrera said the findings from the U.S. were in line with previous research from the center, which found that “majorities of Americans hold positive views about immigrants overall.”
Gonzalez-Barrera also said researchers who conducted the survey found that the majority of people in the U.S. viewed immigrants as a strength to the country and believed “they do not pose a risk for terrorism,” with 59 percent of Americans saying they believed immigrants are a strength, compared with 34 percent who disagreed. Fifty-six percent of Americans said they do not believe immigrants “increase the risk of terrorism” in the U.S., compared to 39 percent who did hold that belief.
“These positive views of immigrants are more likely to be held by those who are politically liberal (on the left of the political spectrum), those who are younger, and people with higher levels of education,” she added.
While Gonzalez-Barrera said the survey “did not explore the reasons behind these answers,” the Pew Research Center did “find some correlations in the views publics in some of these countries hold of immigrants’ impact in their countries and whether or not they believed they were more to blame for crime.”
“In countries where majorities see immigrants as a strength (Canada, Australia, UK, Japan, U.S., Mexico, Spain and France), majorities also tend to say immigrants are not more to blame for crime,” she said.
However, she noted that there were two exceptions to the trend–Germany and Sweden–where majorities said they viewed immigrants as a strength to the country, but more than half of those polled still said they believed immigrants were more to blame for crime.
Since taking office, Trump has sought to enforce a hard line on immigration. The U.S. leader declared a national emergency over immigration on February 15, in an apparent bid to bypass Congress and obtain billions of dollars in funding for the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Trump also prioritized immigration law enforcement in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, with the plan including: $8.6 billion to go toward the construction of the border wall; $2.7 billion to expand the immigration detention system; and $506 million for new hires within the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies.