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.