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Majority Of Voters (Still) Back Border Wall, Stiff Immigration Controls: I&I/TIPP Poll

Most Americans continue to strongly favor more border enforcement, not less, of current immigration rules.

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy / Unsplash

When it comes to immigration, one thing is clear: Americans overwhelmingly favor building a border wall and strongly enforcing existing immigration laws, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows. It’s a big reason why immigration has become the No. 1 issue in the 2024 presidential election.

For our April national online I&I/TIPP Poll, taken April 3-5 from 1,432 registered voters, we asked the following broad question:

Since President Biden took office in 2021, immigration rules have been loosened, allowing for the entry of 5 million undocumented immigrants from around the world, according to the government’s own count. How would you address the immigration issue?

The answers once again showed a strong general preference for a return to the stiffer border controls that had significantly diminished illegal entry into the U.S.

The poll gave respondents a choice of five options:

1. Build a wall, and rigidly enforce all other existing border laws;

2. Build a wall, rigidly enforce all other existing border laws, and deport those who have come here illegally, especially those with criminal records;

3. Tighten the border somewhat, but remember that “America is a nation of immigrants,” and we can’t deport all of those who are here illegally;

4. We’re a nation of immigrants, open the border to all who want to come in;

5. Not sure.

The overall most popular response was also the toughest. That was No. 2, chosen by 42%. No. 1, which similarly called for a crackdown on border crossings and a border wall but didn’t include deportation as a possibility, garnered 16% of all responses.

That’s a 58% majority favoring at minimum a wall and more border enforcement, and a plurality of 42% favoring deportations to go along with the increased border controls.

Answer No. 3 picked up 27% support.

When you total it all up, 85% of Americans want greater enforcement of border laws, though to varying degrees. Just 6% agreed with the “open border” response, No. 4. Meanwhile, 8% said they were “not sure.”

As often is the case in polls, there are big differences when it comes to political affiliation.

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Democrats, for instance, were more likely than Republicans to choose the two least-restrictive options: the “open border” option No. 4 (11%), and the “tighten somewhat, but no deportations” option No. 3 (40%), for a slim total Democrat majority of 51%.

Republicans went big for the more-restrictive options, No. 1 (22%) and especially No. 2 (64%), for a total of 86%. A majority of independents also selected the restrictive responses No. 1 (13%) and No. 2 (40%), for a total of 53% of independents.

What does this all mean? When you dig in, you see that a solid majority of likely voters are eager to limit illegal immigration across our now-porous borders, and that a plurality want those here illegally to be deported.

The I&I/TIPP Poll is no outlier. Other recent polls have had similar findings, including a Harris Poll for the Axios website that found that “Half — including 42% of Democrats — say they’d support mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.” That number includes 45% of Latinos.

As Axios put it on X (Twitter), “Americans are open to (former President Donald) Trump’s harshest immigration plans.”

The issue of immigration is costing Joe Biden dearly. Recent surveys show growing support for Trump among Hispanics, African-Americans, and blue-collar and working-class voters, groups that often complain that cheap labor from abroad punishes workers by pushing down wages and taking jobs.

Is it having an effect? Perhaps. A Gallup Poll released Friday showed a stunning erosion in Biden’s standing among Americans.

“With about six months remaining before Election Day, Biden stands in a weaker position than any prior incumbent, and thus faces a taller task than they did in getting reelected,” according to Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones.

Much of this appears to be a result of the Biden Democrats’ lax border policies, which have encouraged a record surge of illegal migrants. As of February, some 7.2 million “encounters” with illegal crossers were reported by the Department of Homeland Security. That compares to 2.4 million for all four years of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Is the opposition due to American xenophobia or racism, as some believe? Or is something else at work?

As Michael Barone, political historian, analyst and main author of “The Almanac of American Politics,” recently wrote:

Did President Joe Biden and the folks who put together his immigration policy imagine the voting public would celebrate policies that resulted in a record-high number of migration encounters — more than three-quarters of a million — in the usually low-immigration months of October, November and December 2023?

Did they think letting in hundreds of thousands of people they would classify preliminarily as ‘asylum-seekers’ and telling them to report for hearings as late as 2031 would go unnoticed?

Did they think having the government fly illegal immigrants by night into ‘sanctuary cities’ such as New York and Chicago would go unnoticed? Did they think Republican governors in border states wouldn’t launch their own flights of illegal immigrants from Texas to New York City, or Florida to Martha’s Vineyard?

Did they ever contemplate that election-year pollsters would report that the issue brought up most often by voters would be immigration?

Add to this what many Americans agree are the rising costs of unbridled illegal immigration — crime, welfare, health care, education, housing, the enhanced threat of terrorism, and increased political strife — and one sees the making of a major issue for voters this year.

The problem has seized public attention, as surveys show immigration almost always ranks as one of the top three issues that most concern voters this year. A handful of states, fed up with the federal government’s response, are proposing or have already passed laws to ban illegal immigrants from their states. Those states include Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and Oklahoma.

Also, voters are finding out the dollar cost of illegal immigration is huge. According to a recent congressional report, since the advent of the Biden administration, the U.S. has spent around $451 billion a year on immigrants, or nearly half a trillion dollars.

I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.

Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.

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