DENVER – Fewer than one in three likely voters believe the government has any plans to reduce illegal immigration, and a majority continue to believe that the border should be sealed before legal status is granted to undocumented foreigners, according to a recent survey.
When asked, “If a law was passed to secure the border, prevent future illegal immigration and allow those who entered the country illegally to stay, how likely is it that the federal government would actually secure the border and prevent illegal immigration?”, just 32 percent of those surveyed said it was either “very likely” or “somewhat likely,” compared to 58 percent who said it was “not very likely” or “not at all likely.” Another 11 percent were unsure.
A majority of Republican respondents (81 percent) and political independents (63 percent) said it was unlikely that the government would secure the border or crack down on illegal immigration, as did a majority of men (60 percent), women (56 percent) white respondents (64 percent) and those who did not identify themselves as either black or white (56 percent).
By comparison, a majority of black respondents (66 percent) and Democrats (53 percent) said it was likely that the federal government would actually secure the border and prevent illegal immigration.
Most respondents were also opposed to the idea of giving illegal immigrants the immediate right to stay in the U.S. in return for promises of future improvements to border security.
When asked, “Should those who are now in this country illegally be granted legal status right away or should that come only after the border is secured?”, nearly two-thirds – 63 percent – said the border should be secured before undocumented aliens are given legal status. Just 21 percent of those polled said legal status should be given immediately, and another 16 percent were unsure.
Support for the “security first” approach was consistent among all political and demographic groups — with a majority of men (64 percent), women (62 percent), Democrats (51 percent), Republicans (79 percent), political independents (59 percent), whites (67 percent), those who did not identify themselves as either black or white (56 percent), and a plurality of black respondents (45 percent) preferring to see the border secured before any legal status is given.
The Rasmussen Reports national poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted between August 31 and September 1, and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
The survey findings are bad news for supporters of a bipartisan Senate proposal that would grant immediate legal status to an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, make sweeping changes to U.S. immigration law, and authorize future improvements in border security.
The bill was approved in June by the Democrat-controlled Senate, but the Republican-led House has yet to consider the proposal.
Prospects for Congress coming to an agreement on the issue this year look increasingly unlikely as a host of other issues, from potential military action in Syria to a looming budget fight, take center stage.
Public skepticism that the government will actually follow through on promises to tighten immigration enforcement have slowed efforts to reach a compromise.
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, an Idaho Republican who supports immigration reform, suggested in an interview this week that President Obama’s decision to take executive actions that run counter to current laws have also complicated lawmakers’ efforts to reach agreement on the thorny issue.
“Obama is doing all these things unilaterally,” Labrador told the Associated Press on Monday. “How can you force the administration to comply with new laws, when they’re actually telling their enforcement agencies not to enforce the existing law?”