If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


60% Think U.S. Not Aggressive Enough In Deporting Illegal Immigrants

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More than 20 House Democrats last week urged President Obama to halt the deportation of illegal immigrants until Congress passes a comprehensive immigration reform plan, but voters by a two-to-one margin oppose that idea. Most already think the federal government is not vigilant enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally.

Only 29% of Likely U.S. Voters think the government should stop deporting illegal immigrants until Congress passes an immigration reform plan. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% oppose a halt to deportations. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Sixty percent (60%) believe the U.S. government is not aggressive enough now in deporting illegal immigrants. Fourteen percent (14%) say it is too aggressive, while 16% think the number of deportations is about right.

But then most voters have said in surveys for years that the policies and practices of the federal government encourage rather than discourage illegal immigration.

It’s this distrust of the federal government that complicates the efforts of immigration reformers. Most voters, for example, still favor a plan that puts those here illegally on a path to citizenship as long as the border is secured first to prevent future illegal immigration. But fewer voters than ever (25%) think it is even somewhat likely that the federal government will actually secure the border if that plan becomes law, with only five percent (5%) who believe the feds are Very Likely to secure the border.

Just 19% of voters believe that those who are not in this country illegally should be granted legal status right away. Sixty-four percent (64%) say legalization should come only after the border is secured. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure. These findings, too, haven’t changed in years.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on December 8-9, 2013 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-eight percent (68%) of voters think immigration when done within the law is good for America. Fifty-four percent (54%) continue to favor a welcoming immigration policy that keeps out only national security threats, criminals and those who come to live off our welfare system.

Millions of people have entered the United States legally but then stayed longer than their visas allowed. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters think the federal government should find these people and make them leave the country. Twenty-three percent (23%) disagree and do not believe the government should pursue and deport those who have overstayed their visas. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided. These findings are virtually identical to what we found in March.

However, 54% remain at least somewhat concerned that efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants also will end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens. Forty percent (40%) don’t share that concern. This includes 27% who are Very Concerned that the civil rights of some citizens may be violated and 10% who are Not At All Concerned.

This level of concern is unchanged in surveys since spring 2010.

Sixty percent (60%) of whites and 56% of other minority voters oppose a halt to deportations. Black voters are evenly divided. Sixty-five percent (65%) of whites and 52% of other minority voters also believe the government is not aggressive enough now in deporting illegal immigrants, a view shared by only 42% of blacks.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 63% of voters not affiliated with either major party feel that the government’s deportation policies are not aggressive enough. Democrats agree by a narrower42% to 20% margin. Sixty-six percent (66%) of GOP voters and 60% of unaffiliateds oppose halting deportations until a comprehensive immigration reform plan is passed by Congress. Just 46% of Democrats agree.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Republicans, 66% of unaffiliated voters and 50% of Democrats think legalization of those already here illegally should not come until after the border is secured.

But the Political Class is less enthusiastic about deportation than Mainstream voters are. While 65% of those in the Mainstream oppose a halt to deportations, Political Class voters are evenly divided. Seventy-two percent (72%) of Mainstream voters think the government’s deportation policies are not aggressive enough. A plurality (47%) of the Political Class believes the number of deportations is about right these days. 

Only 32% of all voters believe that if a woman comes to this country illegally and gives birth to a child here, that child should automatically become a U.S. citizen. That's the lowest level of support for the current U.S. policy to date.

California earlier this year was the latest state to authorize driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. Sixty-eight percent (68%) think illegal immigrants should not be eligible for driver’s licenses in their state.

But 45% say if a family is not in the country legally, their children should still be allowed to attend public school. Forty-two percent (42%) disagree.

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

Please sign up for the Rasmussen Reports daily e-mail update (it’s free) or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Let us keep you up to date with the latest public opinion news. 

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.