Siena Poll: New Yorkers Support Using Federal Land for Migrant Shelters

Photo by Don Pollard, courtesy of the Governor’s Office >br> On May 22, 2023 in Brooklyn, Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams Call for expedited work authorization for asylum seekers. According to a Siena College Poll released September 12, 2023, New Yorkers support, by a 59-33 percent margin, making it easier for migrants currently in New York to be granted work authorizations regardless of their current immigration status.

A majority of New Yorkers, 56-36 percent, support using federally owned land and buildings as temporary shelters for the current migrants now in New York. Similarly, by 59-33 percent, New Yorkers support making it easier for migrants currently in New York to be granted work authorizations regardless of their current immigration status according to a new survey of New York residents released Tuesday by the Siena College Research Institute.

By more than two-to-one, 60-28 percent, residents support a comprehensive immigration reform bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants in the United States, and by 50-41 percent, New Yorkers oppose the construction of a wall the entire length of our southern border with Mexico.

By 48-42 percent, New Yorkers disagree that immigrants take more in resources than they return in economic activity. A majority, 61 percent, disagree that many of the people trying to immigrate to the U.S. just want free hand-outs from our government and people, and 53 percent say that current immigrants are not the source of much of the illegal drugs entering our county. Still, 31 percent of New Yorkers say that many of the people trying to immigrate to the U.S. are dangerous, potentially criminal people, and 38 percent say that migrants are the source of illegal drugs.

“Over 40 percent of all New Yorkers believe that immigrants take more than they offer society. About a third believe current migrants are dangerous, perhaps even criminal, only want hand-outs and are a source of illegal drugs. But in each of these cases more New Yorkers disagree with, rather than hold, these judgments,” said Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute. “Large majorities of Republicans see immigrants and current migrants as dangerous but Democrats and independents disagree. While a small majority of Republicans say that America no longer needs new immigrants, overwhelming majorities of Democrats and independents say that we do.”

“Despite concerns that some New Yorkers have about the recent influx of migrants, 84 percent of all New Yorkers agree that most of the current migrants want only to build a better life for themselves and their family and 69 percent agree that America should continue to live by the words written on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, your poor…send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me’,” Levy said.

This Siena College Poll was conducted September 5 – 8, 2023 by random telephone calls to 414 New York adults via landline and cell phones, as well as 386 responses drawn from a proprietary online panel of New Yorkers. Respondent sampling via phone was initiated by asking for the youngest person in the household. The poll has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points, including the design effects resulting from weighting.

“There’s no doubt, the vast majority of New Yorkers recognize that our country was built by immigrants from virtually every nation around the globe and assimilating immigrants has made America great,” Levy noted. “Despite nearly a third saying that America no longer needs new immigrants, well over half and a majority of both Democrats and Republicans say that businesses need new immigrants in order to be successful. And, by 60-36 percent, New Yorkers do not believe that immigrants take jobs away from Americans that have lived here for years.”

Eleven percent of the New Yorkers in this survey say that they were born in another country. While 16 percent say that the first member of their family that came to this country did so prior to 1840, 31 percent trace their family’s arrival to the period of American growth from 1840 through World War I and another 35 percent say their family arrived during the Depression, World War II or through the Reagan years.

Only 10 percent say that they started their American journey from 1990 through the present.

“When it comes to migrants and issues associated with immigration, there is a huge partisan divide. A majority of Republicans oppose a comprehensive immigration bill and a huge majority, 77-19 percent, call for building ‘The Wall.’ Democrats strongly support, and over half of independents want the legislation, and while two-thirds of Democrats oppose building a wall, independents are evenly divided,” Levy said. “Democrats overwhelmingly support easier work authorizations and the use of federal properties to house recent migrants. Majorities of Republicans oppose both proposals and while independents oppose using federal properties, 51-41 percent, they are evenly divided on easier work authorizations.”