immigration reform
More than a third of Americans want immigration levels reduced, a Gallup poll indicated. Above, People to rally at the 'We're Here to Stay' immigration event at the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, Jan. 14, 2017. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Americans’ satisfaction with immigration levels is at its highest point in more than a decade, but more than a third would prefer fewer immigrants coming into the country, a Gallup poll released Wednesday indicated.

Immigration has been a hot-button issue, with Congress wrangling over reforms for more than a decade and the incoming administration threatening to undue President Barack Obama’s executive orders protecting millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

There were 42.4 million immigrants in the United States, about 13.3 percent of the total U.S. population of 318.9 million in 2014, up 2.5 percent on the previous year. Some 1.3 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States in 2014, up 11 percent from 2013, with the greatest percentage coming from India (147,500), followed by China (131,800), Mexico (130,000), Canada (41,200) and the Philippines (40,500).

From 1860 to 1920, immigrants made up 13 to nearly 15 percent of the population, peaking at 14.8 percent in 1890.

A record high 41 percent of those queried said they are satisfied with current immigration levels, compared with 38 percent in 2014 and 23 percent in 2018. Yet 53 percent of those asked said they are dissatisfied: 36 percent saying they want less immigration, 5 percent saying they want more and 12 percent saying they are unhappy but don’t want levels changed.

Dissatisfaction/satisfaction varied among political affiliation with 65 percent of Democrats saying they are satisfied and 62 percent of Republicans saying they are dissatisfied and want less.

Twenty-three percent of conservatives, 45 percent of moderates and 60 percent of liberals said they were satisfied with immigration levels. A majority of conservatives (56 percent) said they wanted less immigration compared with 30 percent of moderates and 15 percent of liberals.

White Americans were more likely to be dissatisfied with immigration levels (58 percent) than their nonwhite counterparts (52 percent), with 44 percent of whites saying they would like to see less immigration compared with 18 percent of nonwhites.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants. Trump’s election campaign website featured the view efforts should be focused on legal immigration controls to make sure American citizens get the first crack at jobs. He initially promised to depart the estimated 11 million people in the United States illegally but later modified that promise to focus on those who have committed crimes.

An earlier Gallup poll indicated 66 percent of Americans are opposed to building a border wall, 84 percent favor allowing immigrants in the U.S. illegally the chance to become U.S. citizens, and 66 percent oppose deporting them to their home country.

Monday’s survey was part of Gallup’s Mood of the Nation poll. It was conducted Jan. 4-8 among 1,032 U.S. adults. The poll had a 4 percentage point margin of error and 95 percent confidence level.