Vida Kazemi is sworn in as a U.S. citizen by Allen Chrysler, immigration services officer, during a drive-up naturalization ceremony. (Image via AP Photo/Ashley Landis) More Americans support immigration
Vida Kazemi is sworn in as a U.S. citizen by Allen Chrysler, immigration services officer, during a drive-up naturalization ceremony. (Image via AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

A new Gallup poll found that 77% of respondents overall expressed sentiments that immigration was a good thing for America. 

More Americans than ever want immigration increased. So why did the Trump administration suddenly furlough a majority of the nation’s immigration processing agency?

A new Gallup poll conducted May 28-June 4 found more Americans in favor of immigration than against it, for the first time since studying the trend in 1965. Results showed 34% wanted more immigration, up from 27% a year ago, while 28% wanted less, a new low. Meanwhile, 36% of those surveyed were fine with the current level. 

Respondents split sharply along party lines, with 50% of Democrats and 34% of independents squarely in the “more immigration” camp. Support for immigration has been on an upward trend among both Democrats and political independents as family separations and detention centers have received increased attention. In contrast, only 13% of Republicans said they supported a boost in immigration. Still, 77% overall expressed sentiments that immigration was a good thing for America. 

The survey was conducted before a spurt of anti-immigration actions by the Trump administration, such as the June 22 decision to block the issuance of new H-1B and other visas through the end of the year. 

On Monday, 13,400 United States Citizenship and Immigration Services employees were informed they will be furloughed beginning in August. Putting 73% of the federal agency’s workers on leave will bring the immigration process to a halt, leaving millions of applicants in limbo.

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Nearly 97% of the USCIS’s $14.8 billion operating budget comes from immigration fees, and employees were told the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shifts caused a decline in necessary revenue, VICE News reports. According to an agency spokesperson, USCIS has seen a 50% drop in receipts and incoming fees since March. However, employees say that’s only part of the story. 

“What they aren’t saying is that in addition to COVID-19, Trump keeps canceling visa categories that make us money, like H-1B [visas], certain J1s, and green card applications,” an officer furloughed within USCIS told Vice News. H-1Bs alone usually cost thousands in fees, usually paid for by the employer.

About 1,500 of the agency’s 2,200 workers in Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations were part of that furlough, prompting some to speculate that the administration is eyeing the cessation of the division. 

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“Stephen Miller is getting exactly what he wanted,” an officer told VICE News, referring to the White House senior advisor who oversees immigration policy. 

Immigration has been a main focus for President Trump, who has made calling cards of efforts to build a wall at the Southern border and oppose new paths to citizenship. Though they have failed to garner widespread support, Trump has successfully used the issues to energize his political base.