Americans' 'fear' of immigration is at its second-highest level ever

In the past few years, concern over immigration has skyrocketed in the US.

Between a number of terrorist attacks, the rise of political campaigns with immigration as a central focus, and slow economic growth, worry over immigration is nearing levels not seen since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

As pointed out by Deutsche Bank’s Torsten Sløk, the Migration Fear Index as measured by Economic Policy Uncertainty has spiked over the past year.

The index is constructed by taking a number of terms related to immigration such as “immigrant”, “border control”, and “open borders” and seeing how many news articles include one of those terms along with a fear-related term such as “anxiety”, “crime”, and “worry”.

Granted, this is a rudimentary guide to what people are thinking at any given time, but the spike is certainly notable considering the only time the index has been higher was during the Kosovo War and following refugee crisis.

Immigration has become a central part of the political discussion, as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has stoked concern about immigration, attacking supposedly loose immigration policies as one of the reasons for economic shortcomings among the middle class and among the sources of recent terror attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando.

Additionally, the jump in the US migration fear index has paled in comparison to the increase in the UK. After terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Syrian migrant crisis, and the Brexit campaign’s heavy focus on migration, the UK index has soared to an all-time high.

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