A new Washington-Post/ABC News poll finds that a large majority of Americans express discomfort with today’s pace of social change. This general unease, however, doesn’t apply to their views on immigrants.

The poll asked respondents the following questions:

  • “Would you describe yourself as comfortable or uncomfortable with the country’s overall direction on social issues these days?”
  • “Do you think undocumented immigrants from Mexico are mainly undesirable people like criminals or mainly honest people trying to get ahead?”

Barely a third say that they are comfortable with recent social changes, while 63 percent oppose the direction of the changes. Yet on the second question, Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of Mexican immigrants. An even greater majority, 74 percent, say that they believe Mexican immigrants are “mainly honest people trying to get ahead.” Just 16 percent see them as “undesirable.”

The most reasonable interpretation of these polls is that while people are not supportive of the general trend on “social issues,” they are supportive of undocumented Mexican immigrants. 
ABCNewsPollThis result accords with a variety of other polling that I reviewed in a recent Niskanen Center report on the topic. I found that large majorities of Americans of all partisan affiliations support new legal immigrant workers, oppose reductions in immigration, and favor legalization of undocumented immigrants.