Poll: Most Americans Oppose Syrian Refugee Resettlement in U.S.

Sean Doolittle Facebook Syrian Refugees

Few Americans support resettling Syrian refugees on United States soil, but a majority favor a limited military action to take on ISIS in Syria, according to a survey The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released Monday.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll found that just 36 percent of Americans support admitting thousands of Syrian refugees to the U.S.

The plan is particularly unpopular among Republicans of whom just 18 percent support Syrian resettlement in the U.S., down from 27 percent logged in 2014. Independents were also sour on the idea of Syrian refugees in the U.S.; the poll found that just 32 percent supported such a plan, down from 40 percent in 2014.

On the other hand, a majority of Democrats, 56 percent, were likely to say they support Syrian refugee admissions, up slightly from the 55 percent the poll found in 2014.

The shift in attitudes has occurred against a backdrop of presidential politics and warnings from top officials that the vetting process for Syrian refugees could be vulnerable to terrorist infiltration. The Obama administration is currently on pace to admit more than 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has expressed support for increasing the level admitted by 550 percent.

While most Americans would prefer not to see Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S., more are supportive of limited U.S. combat engagement with the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, the poll revealed. Seventy-two percent of Americans said they support “conducting airstrikes against violent Islamic extremist groups,” 57 percent said they support “sending special operations forces into Syria to fight violent Islamic extremist groups,” and 52 percent said they support “enforcing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, including bombing Syrian air defenses.”

Less popular, however, were questions probing poll respondents on more collaborative options with the Syrians; namely, just 31 percent of Americans said they support “helping to negotiate a peace agreement that allows President Assad of Syria to remain in power,” and just 26 percent said they support “sending arms and supplies to anti-government groups in Syria.”

The poll, released Monday, was conducted from June 10-27 among 2,061 adults across the country. The margin of error depended on the question but ranged from +/- 2.2 to 3.5 percentage points, with larger margins of error for the subgroup data, namely, Republicans +/- 5.8 percentage points, Democrats +/- 5.1 percentage points, and independents +/- 5.3 percentage points.


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