DENVER –Senators approved an amendment to a controversial immigration bill on Wednesday that would add thousands of new border agents and complete a long-delayed 700-mile section of border fence, as lawmakers in the upper chamber inched closer to agreement on a plan to grant legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.
But while support for overhauling the nation’s immigration system seems to be gaining momentum in Washington, most Americans outside the Beltway remain increasingly skeptical that the federal government will follow through on its promises to secure the border, according to a recent public opinion survey.
Fewer than one in three respondents surveyed – 28 percent – said it was “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that the federal government will actually secure the border, compared to 59 percent who said it was either “not very likely” or “not at all likely”. Another 13 percent said they were unsure.
That 28 percent number represents a continuing decline in the proportion of people who believe the government will secure the border or crack-down on illegal immigration – down from 30 percent in May, 38 percent in March and significantly lower than the 45 percent who said they trusted the government to secure the border back in January, according to Rasmussen.
“Many in Washington are frustrated by the public distrust. They dream of public relations programs to overcome it,” said Scott Rasmussen in a memo summarizing the poll findings. “What is needed, though, is for the government to change its behavior, so that it can earn the trust of the people it serves.”
A majority of men (62 percent), women (56 percent), Republicans (76 percent), political independents (68 percent), and white respondents (65 percent) said it was unlikely that the government would actually secure the border, as did a plurality of those who did not identify themselves as either black or white (45 percent).
That skepticism was consistent across all age groups, with a majority of respondents between 18 and 39 (61 percent), those between 40 and 64 years of age (60 percent) and those over 65 (54 percent) saying they do not believe the government will follow through on promises to prevent illegal immigration.
By comparison, a majority of black respondents (55 percent) and a plurality of Democrats (44 percent) said they believed it was likely that the federal government would secure the border.
Roughly two in every three respondents – 64 percent – said those in the U.S. illegally should be granted legal status only after the border is secured, compared to just 22 percent who said illegal immigrants should be granted legal status immediately.
The Rasmussen Reports national poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters between June 20 and June 21, and has a margin of error of + / – 3 percentage points.