Candidate statements that the first priority of immigration policies should be protecting the interests of American workers draw far more support from evangelical likely voters than statements in favor of increasing immigrant work permits, according to a poll at Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration (EBI), conducted on May 12-13 by Pulse Opinion Research.
The survey asked 800 racially and politically diverse evangelical voters nationwide if they had seen news “about 2016 presidential candidates talking about whether to cut or increase annual legal immigration” (65% said yes, and 28% said no). The voters were then asked their opinion about types of statements being made by potential presidential candidates but without mentioning any name or party….
By a 4-1 margin, evangelicals “strongly supported” (40%) rather than “strongly opposed” (11%) a statement that legal immigration should be cut because “the priority for U.S. immigration policy should be to protect American workers and their wages.”
Evangelicals had a nearly opposite response to a statement that legal immigration needs to be increased because “letting people into our country who want to work is good for them and good for us.” (12% strongly supported it; 36% strongly opposed it.)
EBI is sending the survey results and full wording of questions (see them at: evangelicalsforbiblicalimmigration.com ) to the potential 2016 presidential candidates and to political party leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
“A number of high-profile voices continue to try to suggest that evangelicals are moving toward policies that would increase legal immigration and reward illegal migration — so-called comprehensive immigration reform,” said author Kelly Monroe Kullberg, EBI spokeswoman and president of Christians for a Sustainable Economy.
“But these poll results show that most evangelicals align with a biblical view of both wise welcome and common sense. When nearly 60 million working-age Americans don’t have jobs, love and common sense would bring more jobs before bringing more workers. When open borders invite danger, love and common sense would secure the borders. One begins to sense that our leaders lack the basic combination of love, common sense and biblical wisdom for the shaping of a sustainable and healthy nation.”
Told that the government currently allows one million legal immigrants each year, 24% of evangelicals said the number should stay the same or be increased. About the same number (25%) said annual legal immigration should be cut to zero. Another 18% advocated an annual level of 100,000, and a total of 60% of evangelicals called for cuts of at least half to 500,000 or below.
On the matter of illegal immigration, evangelicals were read a statement that the priority should be offering work permits and citizenship to illegal immigrants currently in the country (which is the position of several of the potential candidates). Only 26% strongly or somewhat supported the statement, while 67% strongly or somewhat opposed it.
Far more popular was a statement that policies dealing with illegal immigration “must first be about compassion for hard-working Americans.” A total of 73% supported it, while 19% opposed it.
By a 12-1 margin, evangelical voters said it is “more moral” for new jobs to go to unemployed Americans and legal immigrants already here than to give illegal immigrants an equal right to compete for the jobs.
“Why do most evangelicals back these kinds of priorities, is it because they don’t love enough?” Kelly said. “No, it is precisely the opposite. It is because they do love and speak the truth in love. They are trying to be careful stewards of our culture and to care for the more vulnerable of our communities. In Scripture we don’t see open borders and blanket amnesty. We see justice to citizens and wise welcome to well-meaning guests.”
Few evangelical voters (15%) agree with certain evangelical leaders who say Old Testament admonitions to not mistreat aliens and to love the stranger as themselves “mean the U.S. government should offer work permits and legal status to illegal immigrants.”
Most evangelicals (72%) agree with other evangelical leaders who say the Scriptures “mean the U.S. government should offer humane treatment while fairly applying the laws passed by Congress.”
Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration describes itself as an “ad hoc movement of those seeking the whole counsel of Scripture about immigration, citizenship and how we’re to honor, steward and shape our culture. . . Let’s be kind and careful as we discern from the Lord and engage in principled conversation.”
Evangelical Voters Prefer American Workers as Immigration Priority: Poll Results Being Sent to Early Presidential Campaign States, Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, May 15, 2015