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Most Favor Trump's Litmus Test for Potential Immigrants

Most Americans favor screening out immigrants to this country who don’t share our values or a belief in our basic constitutional freedoms.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 61% of American Adults favor a proposal to keep out “those who do not support the U.S. Constitution or who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States would not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred for reasons of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.” Just 19% oppose such a ban, while 21% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This is the wording President Trump used in his initial executive order temporarily freezing refugees into this country and visas for those from seven Middle Eastern and African countries until proper vetting procedures to screen out potential terrorists are in place. The question, however, did not identify Trump as the source of the proposal.

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Last August when he first proposed it, 59% of voters supported candidate Trump’s temporary ban on immigration into the United States from "the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism” until the federal government improves its screening procedures. Thirty-two percent (32%) were opposed.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Americans now believe that criminals should be prosecuted more severely if it can be proven that their crime was motived by the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. A new high, this finding had previously been in the mid- to upper 40s in surveys since 2009. Twenty-eight percent (28%) still disagree, while 14% are undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on February 20-21, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Trump’s initial executive order on the temporary refugee and visa freeze was halted by a federal appellate court, but this week he issued a revised order to reinstate a portion of them. Most voters favor the refugee freeze and the temporary halt on visas for those from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Sizable majorities in most demographic groups favor both the immigration litmus test and so-called hate crime prosecutions.

Democrats, interestingly, are less supportive of restricting immigrants with hateful ideologies than they are of prosecuting Americans for hate crimes. Republicans, on the other hand, view restrictions on newcomers to this country more favorably than prosecution of existing Americans.

Only 49% of Democrats favor keeping out of the country those who do not support the Constitution or who in engage in acts of bigotry or hatred for reasons of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation. But 65% of Democrats support prosecuting criminals more severely if it can be proven that their crime was motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion, nation origin or sexual orientation.

Conversely, 78% of Republicans favor the constitutional/hate crime litmus test for immigrants, but only 57% support prosecutions based on the same standards.

Just over half of Americans not affiliated with either major party favor both proposals. But 33% of unaffiliateds oppose hate crime prosecutions, compared to just 16% who are against the restrictions on new immigrants.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of all voters believe increasing the number of refugees from Syria, Iraq and other suspect Middle Eastern and African countries poses an increased national security risk to the United States. Thirty-three percent (33%) disagree, while 12% are undecided.

Last September when President Obama proposed increasing the number of Middle Eastern and North African refugees allowed into this country, 62% said his plan posed an increased national security risk to the United States.

Democrats oppose Trump’s refugee policy more than other voters do, perhaps in part because voters in the opposition party believe Muslims are treated worse in the United States than Christians are in the Muslim world.

In July 2014, 67% of all Americans said “hate speech” was a serious problem in America today, with 30% who said it was Very Serious, but only 29% thought a ban on hate speech in the United States was a good idea. Sixty-nine percent (69%) said it is better to allow free speech without government interference than it is to let the government decide what types of hate speech should be banned.

Only 27% believe they have true freedom of speech today. Sixty-eight percent (68%) think Americans have to be careful not to say something politically incorrect to avoid getting in trouble.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on February 20-21, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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