Poll: Latino Voters Oppose Borders-First Approach To Immigration Reform


According to a new poll, Latino voters strongly oppose an approach to immigration reform that would require some form of certification that the nation’s borders are “secure” before any other provisions of an immigration reform bill could take effect:

A strong majority of Latino voters reject the idea that border enforcement should come before a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to a poll released Tuesday from Latino Decisions and pro-reform group Presente.org.

The poll, like other surveys on the topic, found strong support — 81 percent — for measures that provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants at the same time as they increase border security. But it also found that many Latino voters are unaware of certain parts of the “gang of eight” bill that passed its first hurdle Tuesday on the Senate floor. That bill would immediately legalize many undocumented immigrants, but would also require that certain border security provisions be met before a plan for a path to citizenship could move forward.

Latino Decisions found that 47 percent of Latino voters had heard little or nothing about the bill’s measure to increase the number of border agents, while 44 percent said they had not heard about its provision for more fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Fifty-four percent of Latino voters had heard little or nothing about the major increase in spending on border enforcement in the bill, according to the poll.

On the other hand, the poll finds strong support among Latino voters for other provisions of the bill currently before the Senate:

The Latino Decisions/Presente.org poll found support from Latino voters for several provisions in the gang of eight bill that would mark steps on the path to citizenship. A strong majority — 94 percent — said undocumented immigrants should be required to go through a background check before becoming legal residents. But most — 78 percent — also opposed allowing undocumented immigrants to become legal residents without the chance of becoming citizens. Additionally, Latino voters largely oppose increasing the number of detentions of unauthorized immigrants, according to the poll.

Republicans, of course, have been pushing changes to the bill that would include provisions that would require some kind of certification on border control before the rest of the bill could go into effect. How to accomplish this varies depending on who you’re speaking to. Senator Rand Paul’s proposal would require Congress to affirmatively vote to certify that the border is “secure” before any part of the bill could go into effect, other proposals would purport to accomplish this goal by other means. As I’ve noted before, though, it seems fairly clear to me that the real purpose of these proposals is to prevent real immigration reform from taking place. By tying immigration reform to a concept as amorphous as “border security,” proponents of this idea are essentially giving a future Congress a veto power over immigration reform largely because there is no objective definition of what constitutes a “secure” border.

The biggest take away from this, of course, is that the warning that it sends to Republicans. If they come out of this immigration debate looking like they want to kill the bill, then they are likely to only further sour their relationship with Latino voters, a constituency they’ve already done a very good job of alienating. I’m not sure they can afford to alienate it any further.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Public Opinion Polls, Race and Politics, 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. PJ says:

    The GOP Latino outreach program would make a lot more sense if it turned out that it was a subsidiary of the Democratic Party….

  2. Caj says:

    Borders first! There has been more border security under President Obama than anyone else. This is just an excuse to vote no on the whole thing! Republicans don’t want immigration reform anyway, all they wanted was their vote.

  3. Pinky says:

    Messed-up HuffPo article. It never actually addresses its own headline. Journ 101.

  4. TycheSD says:

    Republicans need to appeal to working Americans by framing the issue in a way that shows they are trying to protect American workers. Jeff Sessions has the right argument, and that’s the one Republicans should be promoting.

    It’s not just legalizing heretofore illegal aliens and basically giving them work permits. It’s bringing in additional people in the form of guest workers to enable certain industries to keep paying cheap wages. The bill also increases the number of H-1b visas to allow people like Mark Zuckerberg and other U.S. tech employers to use the world as their potential employee pool, rather than hiring Americans who are already qualified to be STEM workers.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    What? Latino voters oppose a “shoot them at the border” priority?

    Seriously, there is more (and better) border enforcement since Obama became president, than at anytime in the last 30 years. Yet to hear Republicans, illegal immigrants are today streaming across our borders in unprecedented numbers.

    Republicans are determined to both lie about the current state of illegal immigration, and further alienate latino voters.

  6. superdestroyer says:


    Progressives are going to oppose such programs because they are willing to sell out American citizens who are blue collar and STEM workers because they want more poor people and immigrants who will be automatic Democratic Party voters and who will support bigger government, higher taxes, more unfunded entitlements, and more ethnicity-based government.

    It is amazing that progressives are arguing for amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration while at the same time arguing in front of the Supreme Court that it is legal for the government to hold whites and Asians to different standards than non-Asian minorities. It is like the progressives are not even trying to be consistent in their policies.