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Voters Favor More Deportation, Not Less

A tie vote in the U.S. Supreme Court last week upheld a lower court ruling that halted President Obama’s plan to exempt millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Most voters continue to oppose that plan as they have from the start and believe instead that the U.S. government needs to more aggressively deport those who are here illegally.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 54% of Likely U.S. Voters oppose the president’s executive order allowing nearly five million illegal immigrants to remain in the country legally and apply for jobs. Thirty-eight percent (38%) favor the president’s plan. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This is consistent with regular surveying since Obama first announced his executive order in November 2014. Twenty-six states challenged that order in federal court which ultimately led to last week’s vote in the Supreme Court.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) say the federal government is not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally. Only 11% say the government is too aggressive, while 23% believe the number of deportations is about right. The numbers who say the government is too aggressive and not aggressive enough are down slightly from previous surveying over the past year, while more now view the deportation rate as about right.

Voters are more sympathetic, however, to the children of illegal immigrants. Forty-one percent (41%) now believe that a child born in this country to a woman who enters the United States illegally should automatically be a U.S. citizen, as is currently the law. Fifty percent (50%) disagree, but that’s down from a high of 65% in November 2012 and from 57% last December.

Thirty-one percent (31%) think illegal immigrants who have American-born children should be exempt from deportation. Fifty percent (50%) disagree, while 19% are not sure. This is slightly higher support for exempting these individuals than we’ve seen in recent surveys.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 26-27, 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 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 while most Republicans and unaffiliated voters consider border control the priority, the majority of Democrats rate amnesty as more important.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of Democrats favor the president’s plan to exempt up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Republicans and 60% of voters not affiliated with either major political party are opposed. While 81% of GOP voters and 58% of unaffiliateds believe the federal government is not aggressive enough when it comes to deporting those here illegally, just 34% of Democrats agree. However, only 17% of voters in the president’s party think the government is too aggressive.

Democrats are similarly more sympathetic than the others to children born to illegal immigrants in this country and to their parents.

No wonder there’s an angry debate over illegal immigration in this country. Most Democrats believe people should be able to freely enter the United States at any time. Republicans strongly disagree, as do a majority of unaffiliated voters.

Women and men are in general agreement on these questions, but those under 40 like the president’s plan more than their elders do. Younger voters are also much more supportive of automatic citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. However, a plurality (48%) of these voters agrees that the government is not aggressive enough in deporting those who are here illegally.

Among voters who support the president’s amnesty plan, 75% believe children born here to illegal immigrants should automatically become U.S. citizens, and 62% say those with American-born children should not be deported. Among opponents of Obama’s plan, 76% oppose automatic citizenship for these children, and 74% don’t think their parents should be exempt from deportation.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of Republicans rate illegal immigration as Very Important to their vote in the upcoming presidential election, compared to 36% of Democrats and 40% of unaffiliated voters.

Seventy percent (70%) of voters who consider illegal immigration Very Important to their vote - and 42% of all voters - favor Donald Trump's plan to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Since most voters have long believed the policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally, it’s not surprising that few 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.

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

A recent government report said that over 500,000 visitors to the United States overstayed their legal visas last year and didn’t go home. Most voters think those who overstay their visas are a serious national security threat and that the feds need to take stronger steps to deport them.

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

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 26-27, 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.

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