A third of Trump voters say immigrants strengthen society: study

A third of Trump voters say immigrants strengthen society: study
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Voters who say they support President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE have become much more open to recognizing the contributions of immigrants, as 32 percent say newcomers strengthen society, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center

In 2016, only 19 percent of Trump voters agreed with that sentiment.

The acceptance of immigrants among Trump voters reflects a wider trend, as 60 percent of all respondents agreed that newcomers strengthen society, compared to 46 percent in 2013.

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An overwhelming majority of voters who support Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response MORE agree with the sentiment. Eighty-four percent of Biden supporters say newcomers strengthen society, as did 71 percent of former Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength READ: Cuomo's defense against sexual harassment investigation MORE's supporters in 2016.

The changing attitudes on immigration reflect a presidential campaign where immigration, a focus of 2016, has dropped off as a central issue.

During Trump's tenure, Democrats have more or less coalesced as a pro-immigrant party, casting aside most historical internal divisions on the issue.

And in 2016, Trump's rhetoric on immigrants and immigration took center stage of the presidential campaign, whereas in 2020, the ailing economy and the coronavirus pandemic have taken over.

The coronavirus pandemic also highlighted essential workers in the health and food industries, many of whom are immigrants, including many undocumented.

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"I think a lot of Americans during this past year have really seen how the immigrant community has stepped up during this crazy time of COVID, and have seen the hard work and sacrifices borne by the immigrant community, and are more appreciative," said Daniel Garza, executive director of the Libre Initiative, a conservative Latino advocacy group in conservative mega-donor Charles Koch's network. 

And Trump's rhetoric on the limited campaign trail has softened, compared to 2016, in part because of immigration's drop-off as a prime issue and in part because he's actively courting a segment of Hispanic voters. 

"The president has also softened and nuanced his message on immigrants a bit more and I think that's helping," said Garza.