Most Americans Want Congress To Reach A DACA Deal, But Oppose Linking It To The Budget

A new poll indicates that most Americans support a DACA deal, but don't think it should be linked to measures to avoid a government shutdown.

A new poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want Congress to reach a deal to help the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program set to expire next month:

Roughly two-thirds of Americans believe it’s very important for Congress to reach a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a poll released Monday found.

Monmouth University poll showed 66 percent of Americans believe it’s very important to address the status of “Dreamers,” as DACA recipients are commonly called. Both Democrats and Republicans largely agree on the importance of the issue.

According to the poll, Americans are split on the Trump administration’s immigration proposal, however, which would grant a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million young immigrants.

President Trump’s plan would also include tens of billions of dollars in funding for border security and a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as limits on legal immigration.

While over 70 percent of Americans support allowing Dreamers to automatically become citizens if they don’t have a criminal record, 31 percent support the Trump immigration plan, 33 percent oppose it and 36 percent are unsure, the poll found.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle opposed the Trump administration’s proposal.

Looking deeper into the poll, the numbers show across the board support for both Congressional action and for the more fundamental question of what should happen to the DACA beneficiaries as well as other immigration issues:

  • On the question of how important it is for Congress to reach a deal regarding DACA beneficiaries, as the article above notes 94% of those survey said it was “Very” or “Somewhat” important for Congress to reach a deal. This includes 95% of Democrats who think it’s “Very” or “Somewhat” important, as well as 91% of Independents and 90% of Republicans;
  • On the question of what should happen to people who are living in the country illegally but have been here at least two years, 77% of those surveyed said they should be allowed to stay in the country and obtain legal status and only 20% deporting them back to their “home” country. On a partisan basis, this consists of a split of 90% to 6% among Democrats, 76% to 21% among Independents, and 63% to 32% among Republicans;
  • On the question of whether they favor or oppose building a border wall on the Mexican border, 57% of those surveyed say they oppose the idea while 40% say they are in favor of it. On a partisan basis, this consists of a split of 88% oppose and 9% favor among Democrats, 60% oppose and 38% favor among Independents, and 76% favor and 20% oppose among Republicans;
  • On the question of whether or not reaching a deal on DACA should be tied to a budget deal that avoids a shutdown, 82% of those survey said they should be dealt with separately and 14% said they should be linked together. Those saying the DACA issue should be dealt with separately include 93% of Democrats, 84% of Independents, and 68% of Republicans;
  • When asked if Democrats should force a shutdown if there’s not a DACA deal by February 8th, 59% say such an action would not be acceptable while 36% say it would be acceptable. Among Democrats, 62% say such linkage would be acceptable while only 31% say it would be unacceptable. Independents go in the opposite direction, with 58% saying that linking support for a budget bill to the fate of DACA reform is not acceptable while 37% it would be acceptable. Among Republicans, not surprisingly, 90% say that linkage between a budget deal and a DACA deal would be unacceptable while 9% say it would be acceptable;
  • Finally, when asked whether a DACA deal should be tied to funding for Trump’s border wall 82% say the issues should be dealt with separately while 14% say the two issues should be linked. Among Democrats, 93% say that the issues should be dealt with separately while just 3% say the two subjects should be linked. Among Independents, 84% say they should be dealt with separately and 14% say they should be lined. And, among Republicans, 68% say the two issues should be dealt with separately and 26% say they should be linked.

What this poll indicates is across the board support for allowing DACA recipients and other people in the country illegally should be allowed to stay in the country and an opportunity to obtain legal status. Additionally, and of immediate importance to the ongoing negotiations on Capitol Hill, there are clear majorities opposed to the idea of linking a DACA deal to either a budget measure designed to avoid a shutdown or to funding for President Trump’s border wall. This should send a message to both parties as negotiations over both issues continue with a potential shutdown date looming at midnight on February 8th. To Democrats, it is yet another sign that it would be politically unwise to force another shutdown over DACA like the one we saw in January, something that Senate Democrats at least appear to recognize in that they have already said that they would not oppose a budget deal unless there was a DACA deal. To Republicans, the message is that the only group that supports the idea of linking a DACA deal to funding for a border wall are their fellow Republicans. Americans as a whole, as well as self-identified Independents and Democrats, believe that the two issues should be dealt with separately.

All of this suggests that reaching a deal should be relatively easy if Congress were to simply act as the American people wish. What that means, of course, is prioritizing avoiding a shutdown this week by at the very least passing a Continuing Resolution that provides for temporary funding for Federal Government operations. That process is set to begin later today when the House of Representatives is set to vote on a measure that would fund most of the Government through March 22nd. To appease the defense hawks in the Republican Caucus, the bill would include full funding for Defense Department operations through the end of the current Fiscal Year on September 30th. To attract Democratic support, the bill would include two years of funding for community health centers, an issue that has come to the forefront in recent weeks as the nation deals with a particularly virulent flu season that has impacted every state but has eased somewhat in the last several weeks. Assuming this bill passes the House tonight, it will go over to the Senate where the outcome is someone unclear but the consensus seems to be that the measure would get enough support to pass the sixty-vote threshold. After that, it would go to President Trump who would likely sign whatever spending bill Congress sends to him.

On the DACA side of the equation, things look murkier. As I noted yesterday, there are currently three different forces at play and it’s hard to see how they will reconcile themselves. In the Senate, the consensus seems to be moving toward a deal that would protect DACA beneficiaries and possibly additional parties that don’t comply with the requirements of DACA as originally enacted by former President Obama but who were still nonetheless among those brought to the country as children and would also provide some funding for border security but not necessarily the President’s border wall. In the House, immigration hardliners seem to be insisting on a deal that would include a DACA deal but would make the beneficiaries eligible to eventually apply for citizenship should they choose to do so as well as funding for the border wall, an elimination of the visa lottery and measures to end or limit so-called “chain migration.” Finally, there’s the proposal from the White House, which would provide DACA protections to an estimated 1.8 million people under a plan that would allow them to eventually apply for citizenship, funding the border wall, ending the visa lottery, and ending “chain migration.: How these three different proposals can possibly be reconciled is not at all clear.

In other words, what the American people want and what can actually pass Congress are most clearly not the same thing.



FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, 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:

    Republicans can deliver for the billionaires. They can do nothing for people.

  2. Michael,

    Getting to a deal on DACA is going to require compromise from all sides. This apparently includes Democrats willing to accept border wall funding and probably some changes to the visa lottery and family migration systems.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Well, that would require Democrats to decide their actual immigration policy which, as I believe I’ve noted about 50 times, they have not done. If you don’t know where you stand you can’t decide what to compromise. In point of fact we may even agree with some changes.

    The smart move would be to counter with e-verify requirements which is the real solution and is of course mistrusted by Republicans because the casinos and the golf courses and Mar-a-Lago still need a goodly supply of defenseless employees to exploit. But it’s also disliked by some Dems for the same reason: it would work.

    And around and around and around we go on the big hypocrisy merry-go-round. We exploit Mexicans while vilifying Mexicans. Meanwhile actual people are living in fear.

  4. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    “All of this suggests that reaching a deal should be relatively easy if Congress were to simply act as the American people wish.”

    Gasp, wheeze, spit coffee out my nose…surely you jest?

  5. Paul L. says:

    If DACA was so popular, why did Obama implemented it as a “temporary” DHS memo?

  6. Franklin says:

    @Paul L.: Because Republicans wanted to prevent Obama from getting legislative victories, especially when they were the right things to do.

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump calls for shutdown if Congress doesn’t pass border-security measures

    Fearmonger-in-Chief REPUBLICAN President Pork Chop Pud plays the ignorance card again.
    If we don’t get rid of these loopholes where killers are allowed to come in to our country and continue to kill…if we don’t change it, let’s have a shutdown,..

  8. Slugger says:

    I don’t want a DACA “deal.” I would like a good, rational, sane policy enacted after thoughtful debate by our representatives. Doing this does not need any linkage to doing anything else. Every problem deserves serious consideration on its own merits. Making a deal will result in half-assed measures.

  9. Kathy says:

    Democrats ought to agree to fund the Berlin border wall, provided all regulations pertaining and relating to all usual buildings are observed, including environmental regulations, and forbidding the use of eminent domain to expropriate private land.

    That should delay any actual construction to 2025 or so.

    The Republicans ought to agree. after all, the government ought to follow the same laws as private citizens, and no private land should ever be stolen for government programs, right?

  10. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Well and good, but my bet is that even if the Democrats were willing to accept exactly what Trump proposed:

    1. Mitch wouldn’t be able to get a majority of his own Senators to vote for it.

    2. Republicans in the house would reject the bill because it has a “pathway to citizenship.” And

    3. Trump wouldn’t sign it once he talked to Steven Miller.

    Back to the need for bipartisan support; fine, start electing bipartisans instead of Republicans and you might be able to get somewhere.

  11. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Slugger: Yeah, but where are you going to find good, rational, sane Republicans to enact such policy?