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63% Say Border Control Is Top Immigration Priority

Friday, March 11, 2011

Little is being said on Capitol Hill about immigration reform these days, but voters remain strongly convinced that border control should come first.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 63% of Likely U.S. Voters think gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living here when it comes to immigration reform. Only 27% put legalizing the status of these illegal immigrants first. Ten percent (10%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Most conservatives (79%) and moderates (59%) think border control should come first; most liberals (52%) say the priority should be legalizing the illegal immigrants who are already in the United States.

Support for border control as a legislative priority has been at this level for years.

But, while Americans want the border secure and a reduction in illegal immigration, most continue to support a welcoming policy of legal immigration.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters now agree with an immigration policy that keeps out only national security threats, criminals and those who would come here to live off America’s welfare system. This is down slightly from 58% last April but is generally consistent with findings for several years. Twenty-seven percent (27%) disagree with a policy like that, while another 19% are not sure about it.

It is interesting to note that Democrats are less supportive of a welcoming immigration policy than Republicans and unaffiliated voters. Republicans support such a policy by a 3-to-1 margin and unaffiliated voters by a 2-to-1 margin. Among Democrats, 47% favor a welcoming immigration policy and 36% are opposed.

Also, 61% of Political Class voters oppose such a policy, while 56% of Mainstream voters favor it.  But then 71% of those in the Mainstream think the priority for immigration reform should be gaining control of the border, while 52% of Political Class voters believe legalizing the status of illegal immigrants already in the country is more important.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 8-9, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.


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