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Most Doubt Next President Will Secure the Border

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Few voters think the government will bring illegal immigration to an end regardless of who wins the White House in November. Most believe amnesty for illegal immigrants is more likely to happen instead.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 35% of Likely U.S. Voters believe it is even somewhat likely that the federal government will actually secure the border and prevent illegal immigration no matter who is elected president. That includes just eight percent (8%) who say it's Very Likely. Sixty percent (60%) consider more border control and an end to illegal immigration as unlikely, with 15% who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Sixty-four percent (64%) say the government is more likely to establish a pathway to U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants in the next 10 years than to secure the border. Only 17% think the government is more likely to secure the border to prevent illegal immigration in the next decade. A sizable 19% are undecided.

As they have in regular surveys for years, most voters continue to favor stricter border control over granting legal status to those already here illegally and believe amnesty will just encourage more illegal immigration. But there are partisan differences: Most Republicans and unaffiliated voters consider border control the priority; most Democrats rate amnesty as more important.

Voter skepticism about the government's willingness to tighten border control killed the last comprehensive immigration reform plan considered by Congress two years ago. At that time, 57% favored giving legal status to those who entered the country illegally but have otherwise obeyed the law if the border was really secured. But just seven percent (7%) thought the government was Very Likely to secure the border to prevent future illegal immigration.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 3-4, 2016 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.

Most Republicans still favor GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump's plan to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, but support is down among voters overall. Three-out-of-four, however, say illegal immigration is important to their vote this fall. 

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Republicans and 37% of Democrats think the federal government will actually secure the border and prevent illegal immigration regardless of who is elected president, but only 29% of voters not affiliated with either party agree. Still, only eight percent (8%) of voters in the two major parties think this scenario is Very Likely.

Most voters of all partisan persuasions agree that it’s more likely the government will provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already living here than secure the border.

White voters are more doubtful than black and other minority voters that the government will actually secure the border regardless of who is elected president.

Voters who consider the issue of immigration Very Important to their vote this November are more likely than other voters to think the federal government will secure the border to prevent illegal immigration no matter who is elected president. But even most of these voters think amnesty will come first in the next 10 years.

Trump has sounded a tough message on illegal immigration from the start of his campaign and has made the issue a central one in the Republican race. But Trump's candidacy appears to have lost some momentum in the last couple weeks. We’ll release new numbers on his chances tomorrow.

Most voters believe that the current policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally. Support for state rather than federal enforcement of immigration laws is now at its highest level in several years.

Most voters also continue to think the government is not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally

Voters have consistently opposed President Obama’s plan to exempt millions of illegal immigrants from deportation

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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