Most Americans Oppose Trump’s Positions On Immigration And Border Wall, Poll Finds

Sorry Donald Trump, but most Americans believe that people here illegally deserve a path to citizenship and oppose building a border wall.


A new poll finds that most Americans do not support the immigration positions taken by Donald Trump:

A new Pew Research Center poll finds Americans broadly rejecting many of Donald Trump’s views on immigration, at a time when Trump is striking a markedly different tone on the issue to make inroads with minority voters and turn around depressed poll numbers generally.

Large majorities of those surveyed said they think undocumented immigrants fill jobs that U.S. citizens do not want, are as honest and hardworking as U.S. citizens and are no more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes — sound rebukes of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration.

Even some of Trump’s own supporters reported positive views of undocumented immigrants on some issues. They expressed negative views of undocumented immigrants on other issues, including whether they commit more violent crimes than U.S. citizens.

A majority of those surveyed also rejected one of Trump’s signature policies: building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump has vowed to get Mexico to pay for the wall, and the proposal has become such a big part of Trump’s presidential campaign that supporters chant “build the wall” at his rallies.

Sixty-one percent of those surveyed by Pew are opposed to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The proposal has far more support from Republicans and GOP-leaning independents — 63 percent favor it — while 84 percent of Democrats oppose it.

But the poll shows that support for building a border barrier has declined since Trump made it a centerpiece of his campaign. In September 2015, 48 percent of those surveyed by Pew opposed building a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Support for a border fence fell to 38 percent in March, when 34 percent supported a wall in a separate question. In the latest survey, 36 percent support building a wall along the entire border.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the findings.

Other polls also have found a drop in support for the border wall. Rand Corp.’s Presidential Election Panel Survey found that 48 percent of those surveyed in December and January supported a border wall; the same people were asked again in July and August, and support had dipped to 38 percent.

The Pew survey finds that support for building a border wall remains high among Trump supporters, at 79 percent.

The survey findings come as Trump this week shifted his tone on immigration, asserting that he may be open to “softening” laws to benefit the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the United States. Trump also said this week he would enforce current law and follow the policies of President Obama, though “perhaps with a lot more energy.”


Trump’s characterizations of undocumented immigrants were also soundly rejected in the poll.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said at his campaign kickoff speech in June 2015.

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards, and they tell us what we’re getting,” Trump said.

Pew’s poll shows that a large majority of those surveyed — 76 percent — think that undocumented immigrants are as hardworking and honest as U.S. citizens. Sixty-five percent of Republicans surveyed said they believe this, along with 86 percent of Hispanics.

Among Trump supporters, 1 in 3 said undocumented immigrants in the United States are not as honest and hardworking as U.S. citizens.

Overall, 71 percent of those queried — and more than 6 in 10 Republicans surveyed — said undocumented immigrants mostly fill jobs that U.S. citizens do not want.

Among those who said they strongly favor Trump, 41 percent said they think undocumented immigrants mostly fill jobs that U.S. citizens would want.

These numbers aren’t entirely surprising, of course. Previous polling has shown that most Americans favor giving people who are in the country illegally a path to legalization and eventual citizenship rather than deportation and that, while there is general support for the idea of securing the border, most Americans do not support the idea of a permanent border wall between the United States and Mexico and tend to favor making it easier for people come to the United States legally, either to work on a temporary basis or on a more permanent basis. The one exception to this finding, of course, has been among Republicans where there has always been strong opposition to the idea of anything resembling “amnesty” and even stronger support for what usually end up being mindless and symbolic commitments to “border security.” This, of course, is the group from which Trump has drawn his primary support, and it’s also the group that was responsible for the backlash against President George W. Bush when he attempted to negotiate a comprehensive immigration reform package early in his second term and against Florida Senator Marco Rubio and the other members of the so-called “Gang of Eight” when they worked together to put together a bipartisan reform package that would have actually secured the border and forced the people here illegally to take concrete steps such as pay back taxes and fines in order to obtain legal status and mandated that they would go to the back of the line when it comes to applying for citizenship.

Donald Trump’s problem, of course, is that outside the Republican Party the ideas he is campaigning on when it comes to immigration are not very popular outside the GOP. This, most likely is why we’re seeing his campaign go through a rather public debate over what position to take on immigration reform, with Trump changing course on his position regarding what would happen to the people here illegally under his plan, and then changing course again when he faced resistance from the base of supporters that he’s brought to his side. The campaign is still due to come out with some kind of immigration plan soon, possibly as early as next week, but given the fact that Trump has been associated with a hard-line position for the better part of a year, and that it seems to be the one part of his platform that is most popular among his supporters, it’s going to be next to impossible for him to truly moderate his position. As this poll shows, though, those positions are exceedingly unpopular with the American public as a whole. Given that, even if Trump tries to modify his position in the coming weeks it’s unlikely to change the overall impression he has created in the minds of voters.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Borders and Immigration, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Yes, most Americans oppose every one of Trump’s policies. Or at least the random garble that issues from the mouth of Cheetoh Jesus and kinda seems like it might be policy until he contradicts himself. And then contradicts that. And that, too. Also that.

    It’s a perpetual motion machine of drivel, ignorance and hate, followed by equally stupid, equally ignorant and equally hateful contradictions. If bullshit can be turned into energy Trump should be able to power a small city.

    And yet 4 out of 10 Americans are seriously contemplating giving this less-dignified Mussolini, this absurd jackass, this mentally-unhinged cretin control of 4,500 nuclear weapons.

    Something here does not compute.

  2. David Yuhas says:

    I fully support Trump’s hard line. He promised to build a wall to keep the mexicans out because they are rapists and murderers. He promised to bar muslims from entering the USA because they are all terrorists. He promised to appoint conservative justices to keep women from aborting our children. He promised to hire more police to keep the blacks in line. These policies will make America great again.

  3. michael reynolds says:
  4. gVOR08 says:

    @David Yuhas:
    I’m afraid you are running into Poe’s Law.

    “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is uttrerly [sic] impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.”[1] The original statement of Poe’s law referred specifically to creationism, but it has since been generalized to apply to any kind of fundamentalism or extremism.[3]

    Without, as far as I recall, any history in this forum you do need either 😉 or spelling and grammar errors to clarify intent.

  5. JohnMcC says:
  6. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And yet 4 out of 10 Americans are seriously contemplating giving this less-dignified Mussolini, this absurd jackass, this mentally-unhinged cretin control of 4,500 nuclear weapons.

    Something here does not compute.

    What is so hard to compute, they are Republicans, they’ve always put party before country. They were originally called Rebels, we called them Dixicrats the next time, and now we call them Republicans.

    Labels change, people don’t. Not hard to figure out.

  7. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: First, for better or worse, roughly half of all people do not vote. So 2-3 in 10 want to give this idiot nuclear weapons, and 4-5 in 10 don’t care.

    Second, most people aren’t paying attention yet. A lot of his support might be of the “he’s an idiot, but he’s our idiot” variety — without taking the time to realize that this idiot is something different than the usual idiot.

    Third, propaganda works. He’s running against the Clinton Crime Family, demonized for decades on the right.

    I would say it is a bit early for a lot of people to have their “come to Cheeto Jesus and recoil in horror” moment.

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Small city…more like most of Los Angeles.

  9. Gustopher says:

    I tried posting earlier from my bad iPad, and it said my comment was stuck in the spam filter. Free me, free me, etc.

    (No idea what the difference between the bad iPad and the good iPad is, other than one being good and the other bad…)

  10. michael reynolds says:


    Do not question the Apple, frail human.

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Gustopher: Man proposes; the Great Silicone God disposes.

  12. Eric Florack says:

    @Loviatar: the labels end up being an easy way to Tar and feather somebody you disagree with. They don’t even have to apply to the same people.

    As usual the leftists in here I will come down against anything that is to the right of Fidel Castro.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    What is Trump’s position at the moment? He’s flipped so many times I can’t figure out which side he came down on.

    Basically “I’ll say anything to get attention!”

  14. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Put race in the equation, and the numbers will add up.
    Also see Stonetool’s Razor: if white people are voting against their interests, it’s in the service of disadvantaging racial minorities , or protecting their privileged position. LBJ said it even better:

    “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

  15. Loviatar says:



    Thanks for two great quotes. I’d never heard the LBJ quote before.

    If you don’t mind I’ll be using them both in the future.

  16. DR says:

    @michael reynolds: But what most Americans think doesn’t matter. The CURRENT (not proposed) laws state clearly that people who are here illegally must be deported. The fact that this law is rarely enforced is beside the point. Trump simply wants to enforce the existing laws.

  17. Concerned UK Citizen says:

    @michael reynolds: “Cheeto Jesus…..” Hillarious! Made my day. Thanks.

  18. Stan K. says:

    @DR: You are correct. Specifically, the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B) states: “Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable.”

  19. Bill says:

    There’s already a few walls in place, and Hillary voted in favor of them- how many people surveyed knew that?! And Mexico also built some on the border with El Paso.

  20. al-Alameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    As usual the leftists in here I will come down against anything that is to the right of Fidel Castro.

    Well thank god you left Hugo Chavez out of this.

  21. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Stan K.: @DR:

    …..violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable.”

    You assume you do understand the difference between “MUST” and “is deportable” ?

    How does Trump’s ‘first focus deportations on the “really bad dudes”, and Obama’s ‘ Prioritize deportations on the “really bad dudes” differ?