A growing number of Americans say immigration levels should remain the same or increase, according to a major U.S. survey, a shift that comes as the Trump administration has ramped up immigration enforcement. At the same time, the latest data from the General Social Survey — a widely respected poll that has measured trends on American attitudes since the 1970s — shows a growing partisan divide on the topic over the past decade. The 2018 survey was released this week and shows 34 percent of Americans want immigration levels to be reduced, down from 41 percent in 2016, according to an analysis by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and GSS staff. That's compared with 23 percent of Americans who want more immigration, up from 17 percent in 2016. Forty-one percent say they want immigration levels to stay the same. It's the first time since the survey question was first asked in 2004 that more Americans want immigration to remain the same than to be reduced. The survey is conducted every two years, and the question was last asked before President Donald Trump took office and made it harder for people to immigrate to the United States. Trump — who made immigration enforcement a centerpiece of his election campaign — has repeatedly called for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and his push for wall funding last year drove the federal government to a monthlong shutdown that furloughed hundreds of thousands of government workers. The administration enacted a travel ban for citizens of mostly Muslim countries, including Iran and Yemen, that has torn many families apart. And officials last year separated immigrant parents from their children to prosecute illegal border crossers, a move that sparked an international outcry. 'People are more tolerant of immigration than the president and the far right would have us believe,' said Louis DeSipio, a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine. According to the survey, nearly three times as many Democrats as Republicans want more immigrants allowed into the country, while Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to favor less immigration. But fewer Republicans want a reduction in immigration than did in 2016. In 2018, 52 percent of Republicans said they wanted less immigration, down from 62 percent two years earlier. Forty-four percent of Democrats say they want immigration levels to remain the same, while 34 percent want an increase in immigration. The survey — which does not distinguish between illegal and legal immigration — also looked at Americans' views on the issue by race. About 41 percent of whites want a decrease in immigration, while only 24 percent of blacks and 22 percent of Hispanics say the same. Trump has made immigration an intensely political issue, and also an issue of race, said Manuel Pastor, director of the University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. 'Trump is trying to create a Republican Party that's much more based in an older, white electorate in nonmetropolitan areas of the country,' Pastor said. 'The Democrats are trying to put together political coalitions that have a deep base in metropolitan areas, and that includes many more people of color.' ___ The General Social Survey has been conducted since 1972 by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing. Sample sizes for each year's survey vary from about 1,500 to about 3,000 adults, with margins of error falling between plus or minus 2.2 percentage points and plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The most recent survey was conducted April 12 through November 10, 2018 and includes interviews with 2,348 American adults. ___ Online: http://www.apnorc.org
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an immediate ban on all assault weapons, and “military-style semi-automatic weapons,” like the weapons used in last Friday’s attacks on two Christchurch mosques. >> Read more trending news Ardern announced the ban Thursday and said it would be followed by legislation to be introduced next month. She said the man arrested in the attacks had purchased his weapons legally and enhanced their capacity by using 30-round magazines “done easily through a simple online purchase.” Ardern said a buyback program will be created to pay owners “fair and reasonable compensation” for the soon-to-be outlawed guns. She said that it will cost New Zealand between $100 million and $200 million and the guns would be destroyed according to NPR. Unlicensed gun owners would not be prosecuted for any weapon they turn in. “Amnesty applies ... we just want the guns back,” Ardern said in a press briefing. “For other dealers, sales should essentially now cease. My expectation is that these weapons will now be returned to your suppliers and never enter into the New Zealand market again,” she said. Ardern did not say what would happen to those who violate the law. >> RELATED: Assault weapon vs. assault rifle: What is the difference? What is an “assault rifle”? An assault rifle is a rapid-fire, magazine-fed rifle designed for military use. It is a shoulder-fired weapon that allows the shooter to select between semi-automatic (requiring you to pull the trigger for each shot), fully automatic (hold the trigger and the gun continuously fires) or three-shot-burst modes. What is an 'assault weapon?' Technically, there is no such thing. What’s called an assault weapon (or sometimes an assault rifle) in reports on gun violence is a semi-automatic rifle that looks similar to the assault rifles used by the military. An AR-15 rifle, like the ones that have been used in some mass shootings, is an example of this type of weapon. What’s the difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic weapon? An automatic weapon (“assault rifle”) can shoot more than one round when you pull the trigger. A semi-automatic weapon (“assault weapon”) does not. Automatic weapons have not been used in recent mass shootings. In the shootings in Orlando, Florida; Newtown, Connecticut, and San Bernardino, California, semi-automatic weapons, were the weapons used. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposal to devise health care “waiver” programs that might ease insurance for some poor and middle-class Georgians passed a special House committee on Wednesday. The measure, Senate Bill 106, has already passed the state Senate. Its next step is to be seen by the House Rules Committee, the gateway to the House floor. Then, if passed without amendments, Kemp would have before him the legislation he first suggested word for word. “I’m very pleased with it,” said state Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, who is chairman of the House Insurance Committee and led the Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care, which heard SB 106 Wednesday. The committee voted for it 11-3, with at least one Democrat in favor and no Republicans opposed. The often positive testimony from witnesses reflected the findings of Atlanta Journal-Constitution polls expressing a desire to figure out how to insure the hundreds of thousands of Georgia poor who are currently not eligible for Medicaid. The legislation would give Kemp the authority to request federal “waivers” to Medicaid and Affordable Care Act rules in order to design programs tailored to the state. It is possible that the waiver programs could end up insuring hundreds of thousands of poor childless adult Georgians who are currently ineligible for Medicaid. Or it might do something much less. The choice would be Kemp’s. The near unity among witnesses in favor of a waiver broke down over what exactly such a waiver should do. A parade of advocates testified to Smith’s committee that they supported the effort to expand coverage. But several, including Democrats, said the measure didn’t go far enough, and they either spoke against it or wouldn’t urge a yes vote. Many are concerned that as Kemp decides how best to shape the state’s Medicaid program, the bill limits him to dealing only with the population up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or those who make about $12,000 a year for an individual. Federal law encouraged expansion of Medicaid to all poor people up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $16,000 for an individual. Several groups, including the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, praised the possibility of expanding Medicaid and asked for it to go to 138 percent of the poverty level. Georgia Watch’s Laura Harker praised the benefits of Medicaid coverage to the poor and to the economy. “We are, however, struggling with consternation about the 200,000 or so just above the poverty line that may miss out,” Harker said. State Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City, is not on the committee but did testify. She said she was concerned not only that the bill stopped short at the number of poor people it would include, but also at the amount of power the bill gives the governor. There is no requirement for him to run his eventual decisions by the Legislature. One speaker, with the libertarian group Georgians for Prosperity, opposed the bill for the opposite reason, because he said insuring so many more poor people with Medicaid would encourage unemployment. Many said it was worth doing something rather than nothing. State Rep. Patty Bentley, a Democrat from Butler, was among them. “What we have on the table right now, my friends, I see as a way to help my area,” Bentley said. “So, my friends, I respect you, I honor you, but I’m voting for this bill.” Asked why they would restrict the governor to considering a smaller group of people, the committee chairman, Smith, and state Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, who made the motion for the bill, both said that was simply what the governor requested. Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at ajc.com/news/georgia-government/.