Californians Believe Immigration to be Most Important Issue in Coming Year

  • Feb 12 2019

It’s no surprise that immigration has become a really hot button topic over the course of the Trump presidency. But what may be a surprise is that more Californians think that immigration and illegal immigration are the most important issue for state officials over the coming year.

This comes at a time when the Trump administration just partook in the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history, and about a week before another possible shutdown if Trump cannot receive funding for his wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.


The poll, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, was based on a survey of 1,707 adult California residents. These individuals were interviewed on landlines and mobile phones between Jan. 20-29, 2019. It found that 15 percent of adult respondents believe immigration and illegal immigration to be most important, while education (11 percent), the economy (10 percent), the environment (8 percent), and homelessness (6 percent). Other responses included:

  • Government: 5 percent
  • Health care, health insurance: 5 percent
  • Housing costs, availability: 5 percent
  • State budget, deficit, taxes: 5 percent

While Bay Area respondents responded similarly, Los Angeles residents ranked education as the highest priority. The margin of error for the poll was approximately 3.3 percentage points for all adults surveyed and 4 percentage points for likely voters.

Presidential Agenda-Setting Power

According to Melissa Michelson, professor of political science at Menlo College, the heavy focus on immigration is a direct result of the government’s priorities. “It’s what political scientists call the agenda-setting power of the president,” she said. “That doesn’t mean they agree with Trump, which also shows up in the poll.” Political analyst, Dan Schnur, former GOP aide and current professor of political communications at the University of Southern California and UC-Berkeley, explained that this focus on government priorities also does not mean that those who are in favor of a wall are the only ones finding the issue of relevance. “The president had elevated the immigration issue to be a top-tier motivator for his supporters, but it’s become even more important to his opponents,” he said.

Trump and Congressional Democrats Found at Fault

In fact, only one-third of all respondents said that they approved of the job that the Trump administration and Congress are doing. Most found the president and congressional Democrats to blame for the recent partial government shutdown. Furthermore, according to the poll 69 percent of those adults surveyed are in opposition of building a wall along the border – only 24 percent of Republicans felt the same.

Quinnipiac University Poll Finds Similar Results

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found these sentiments to be the same. The Quinnipiac poll also found that over three-quarters of respondents believe immigration is good for the country (76 percent), and 82 percent believe that “Dreamers” – those brought to the U.S. illegally as children – should be allowed to remain in the country and to apply for citizenship.

Posted in: Immigration Law