Conducted in the last two weeks of May, the poll asked some 1,540 respondents whether they would support or oppose taking in refugees from the Middle East's conflict zones if they were screened for security risks. Almost 60 percent said they would support the measure. The United States does already have an extensive vetting process in place involving various governmental agencies, with applications taking well over a year to process.
The phrasing of the question -- including the nuance of screening guarantees -- likely influenced the result. Other polls on the subject of refugees yielded less decisive majorities, or even indicated public opinion was more opposed to a refugee influx than inclined to welcome it.
In the wake of the Paris terror attacks last November, a Washington Post-ABC News poll asked respondents: "Do you support or oppose the United States taking in refugees from the conflicts in Syria and other Mideast countries after screening them for security?" Some 54 percent at the time said they opposed taking in these refugees.
The Brookings findings suggest that, if removed of security concerns, the majority of Americans have no qualms giving sanctuary to refugees from the Middle East, be they Muslim or of any other faith. It also found that majorities of Americans -- particularly younger Americans as well as self-declared Democrats -- felt a moral obligation to accommodate refugees from certain warzones, including Syria and Iraq.
Some 55 percent of Americans surveyed also believed that refugees would be welcomed in their state or community. And 70 percent said they would not become more supportive of the U.S. accepting more refugees should the scheme exclude single men, a repudiation of a right-wing talking point on both sides of the pond that has painted the ongoing crisis as an invasion of swarthy, job-seeking males.
One of the more intriguing findings was that a majority of Americans believe the 2003 invasion of Iraq played a "significant role" in creating the chaos and conflict that provoked Syria's current refugee crisis.