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Only 2% of Americans say immigration is a top priority -- so why is Washington making it one of its top priorities?


A new Gallup poll finds that Americans aren't as enthusiastic about "immigration reform" as some Members of Congress and most of the main stream media would like you to believe. The poll asked Americans what is the most important problem facing the country today, and only 2% of respondents said that immigration was the top concern.

So what do Americans think is important if 98% don't think it's immigration? The economy was chosen by 23% of Americans as the top issue followed by unemployment at 17%.

It begs the question: why is Congress and President Obama willing to cast as their No. 2 priority (after the fiscal cliff) an issue that only 2% of Americans think is a top priority and ranks behind 10 other issues? Furthermore, the President wants to address immigration with a massive increase in green cards. But doesn't the Gallup poll suggest that if immigration is addressed, it should be addressed as to how it would affect unemployment?

The most recent jobs report showed a slight improvement in unemployment with the rate dropping from 7.9% in October to 7.7% in November. But the unemployment rate only factors Americans who are either working or actively looking for work, so Americans who gave up their job search aren't part of the overall rate. A closer examination of November's numbers revealed that the reduced unemployment rate didn't represent more Americans working; it represented fewer jobless Americans looking for work.

The U-6 unemployment rate in November, which includes both those who are unemployed and those who have settled for part-time work while they look for a full-time job, was 14.4%. That means that more than 20 million Americans want a full-time job but can't find one.

new study by Dr. Steve Camarota at the Center for Immigration Studies finds an even more grim situation for Americans who lack a college degree. (This is a key group because the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 74% of illegal aliens lack a high school degree and therefore would compete directly with America's less educated.) For U.S.-born adults without a high school degree, the unemployment rate is 18.5%. The unemployment rate for Black Americans with only a high school degree is 17.8%, and for Hispanic Americans with only a high school degree, the rate is 12.9%.

The Gallup poll seems to indicate that Americans sense these high unemployment rates despite the recent drop in the overall rate.

Just before the elections, Gallup asked Americans the exact same question, and like today's results, only 2% thought immigration is the top problem for the country. For the year, immigration had its best response over the summer when the Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan was unveiled and dominated the headlines. Even then, immigration was only viewed as the top issue by 4% of Americans. A history of the poll from Gallup reveals that immigration has only ever garnered a response from about 2-3% of Americans.

At the start of the new year, instead of Congress and the President looking for ways to provide 11 million illegal aliens with work permits to compete with jobless Americans in a troubling economy, they should instead be looking for ways to get more than 20 million jobless Americans back to work. And that should include freeing up the 7 million non-agricultural jobs currently held by illegal workers and reducing future flows of legal immigrants.

Interestingly, after the major economic issues, Americans in the Gallup poll said the next biggest problem facing our nation is government itself. Should Congress and President Obama choose to address immigration while ignoring all the other concerns that Americans have before it, they won't be doing themselves any favors in that regard.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA

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