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Immigration Update

Border Control Still Top Immigration Priority For Most Voters

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% of Likely U.S. Voters think gaining control of the border should be the priority when it comes to immigration reform. Thirty-four percent (34%) disagree and say it’s more important to grant legal status to those already living here. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These findings are consistent with regular surveying for the past four years. Prior to 2012, support for stricter border control was generally in the low to mid-60s. The number who say legalizing the status of those already here is more important reached a high of 38% in December 2012 but fell to a recent low of 30% in April of last year.

Fifty-two percent (52%) of voters believe providing a pathway to citizenship for those in this country illegally will just encourage more illegal immigration. This finding has ranged from 48% to 58% over the past year. Thirty-one percent (31%) disagree, while 17% are undecided.

Seventy percent (70%) of Republicans - and 51% of all voters - support GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border to help stop illegal immigration.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 17-18, 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.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters think the government is not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally, another view most have held in surveys for years. 

Most Republicans (79%) and voters not affiliated with either major political party (65%) say gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of workers already here, but most Democrats (57%) take the opposite view. Just 35% of Democrats consider border control more important.

While most GOP and unaffiliated voters think providing a path to citizenship will just encourage more illegal immigration, Democrats by a narrower 45% to 33% margin disagree.

Men and those 40 and older put more importance on border enforcement than women and younger voters do.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters who consider border control more important believe providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants will just encourage more to come illegally. Fifty-three percent (53%) of those who believe legalizing the status of those already here is more important disagree.

Most voters continue to believe the current policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally. Most also continue to oppose President Obama’s plan to exempt millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

Seventy-two percent (72%) believe the federal government is not aggressive enough in finding those who have overstayed their visas and sending them home.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has called for free lawyers for children who have entered this country illegally, and a law proposed in the state of Maryland would expand that to include women who are here illegally as well. However, most voters oppose the federal government providing taxpayer-funded lawyers to women and children who entered the country illegally from Central and South America to help them fight deportation.

Support for state rather than federal enforcement of immigration laws is now at its highest level in several years.

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

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