Do you think your town could house migrants?

What shapes Americans’ views on migrants from the border and southern states coming to their towns? It’s not always where they live, but may depend on their politics.

Democrats, including those in both cities and suburbs, are overwhelmingly receptive to the idea of temporarily accepting migrants in their locales.

But the principle often collides with the practical: they’re not always sure there’s space.

The number of Americans who think there is room in their town — in the form of facilities or public housing — is lower than the number willing to accept people.

Among Democrats who live in cities, specifically, that gap between willingness and perceived space persists.

Republicans, meanwhile, are mostly opposed to accepting migrants — and think there isn’t space, wherever they live.

Who are the city people who would not approve of their locale at least temporarily housing migrants?

They tend to think there isn’t space; they tend to be older; more likely to be White than those who favor it; they’re paying a little more attention to the story about migrants and the border, and, related to partisanship, they’re much more likely to be moderate or conservative than liberal.

Republicans in suburbs and cities are less likely than Democrats to say their town has facilities for migrants. And more generally, they tend to report feeling their area is “too crowded” with more people than it can handle already, more so than Democrats do. So all these assessments may be due in part to more micro-level differences in locale, but also to more subjective matters of perception.

Views on sending migrants north

All told, Americans split on the idea of sending migrants to northern cities from southern ones, and the border.

Though the relocation of migrants has been spurred by some red-state governors, Republicans aren’t universally behind the policy. The Republicans opposed are just more opposed to immigration generally, so perhaps are responding to the idea of the migrants being elsewhere, or anywhere, in the country.

Those who approve of the policy see merit in involving other parts of the country, and think those places have more resources, while those who disapprove see it as a political statement more than anything else.

The border and the administration

An increasing majority of Americans are calling for the Biden administration to be tougher on immigrants trying to cross the border —  including a sizable 41% of Democrats — and the Democrats’ number is up from February.

The president’s handling of the border situation gets negative approval overall. Republicans in Congress aren’t spared the public’s ire either. And there’s plenty of dissatisfaction within each party’s ranks.

Americans do tend to think the situation at the border is at least very serious, if not a crisis, with partisan differences on the degree of its severity.

It’s the Democrats who see the border situation as more serious who are calling for Mr. Biden to be tougher, and those who tend to be more moderate than liberal.

Biden does get relatively better approval for handling jobs, more so than for handling the economy generally, and his overall approval is 41% — is unchanged from last month, and more generally about where it has been for many months.

This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,188 U.S. adult residents interviewed between May 17-19, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The margin of error is ±3.0 points.


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