The Trump White House is demanding that billions of dollars in taxpayer money go to an expanded deportation force, new detention centers, and a border wall with Mexico–the building blocks of funding a mass deportation strategy. While Trump panders to the small minority of nativists who make up his base, poll after poll shows that Trump’s radicalism on immigration is directly at odds with the views of the vast majority of Americans.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
Americans don’t want to pay for Trump’s wall and mass deportation plan. They think it’s better to legalize undocumented immigrants than try to deport them all, and they recognize that immigrants are valued members of American families and communities. If budgets send a message about principles and priorities, than it’s unmistakable that the Trump White House doesn’t care about what most Americans want or think.
New CNN polling underscores the deep unpopularity of the Trump mass deportation and immigration agenda. Summarizing the findings and implications of the CNN poll, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, “Little by little, the narrative that President Trump and his top adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, have been telling about what is happening in this country is getting translated into concrete policy specifics. And Americans are recoiling from the results.”
Among the key questions in the CNN poll:
- 90% of Americans, including 87% of Republicans, back an earned path to citizenship. As CNN summarizes, “offering citizenship to those immigrants who are living in the US illegally but hold a job, speak English and are willing to pay back taxes is immensely popular, with 90% behind such a plan. That’s consistent across party lines, with 96% of Democrats, 89% of independents and 87% of Republicans behind it.”
- Americans increasingly think immigration policy priority should be legalization – not deportation or border security. When asked what top priority should be for U.S. immigration policy, 60% of respondents back legalization, 26% support a plan “to stop immigrants from entering the U.S. illegally,” and 13% support deporting immigrants here. Of note, the support for the legalization option grew from 51% in September 2016 to the current 60%.
- Public overwhelmingly and increasingly opposed to mass deportation: By a 71%-27% margin, Americans oppose the notion that the government seek to “deport all people currently living in the U.S. illegally.” The opposition to mass deportation grew from 66%-30% opposition in September 2016.
- By a 58%-40% margin, Americans more worried that deportations will go too far rather than not far enough. The public is more concerned that “people who haven’t committed serious crimes” will be deported than efforts won’t go far enough and dangerous criminals will remain.
- The CNN polling is just the latest survey to capture Trump’s immigration plan’s unpopularity. See below for recaps on other recent polling showing that the public is overwhelmingly in favor of legalization, not deportation, and against the notion of a Mexican border wall. In other words, overwhelmingly Americans oppose what President Trump is asking taxpayers to fund.
Overwhelming and Durable Public Support for Legalizing, Not Deporting, Undocumented Immigrants
While Trump’s budget seeks more than $1 billion additional taxpayer money for immigration enforcement, polling shows that public opinion in support of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay instead of go is remarkably durable and consistent:
- A March Quinnipiac poll found that a combined 74% of Americans support either citizenship (63%) or legalization without citizenship (11%) for undocumented immigrants, while only 23% support the deportation option. The poll found that 92% of Democrats, 74% of Independents, and even 51% of Republicans support either citizenship or legalization. Both Americans’ 63% support for citizenship and combined 74% support for “stay” represent the high-water mark for support in the twelve occasions Quinnipiac has asked this poll question since 2012.
- In addition to Quinnipiac, recent polls from Pew Research, New York Times/CBS, Washington Post/ABC News, CNN, Gallup, and even Fox News each found that between 72% and 88% of Americans back either citizenship or legalization for undocumented immigrants over deportation.
- In a recent piece in The Atlantic, titled “Not Even the Reddest States Support Deportation,” Dr. Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)highlighted how PRRI’s massive-sample polling research found that Americans support a path to legal status over deportation by 79% – 16% and that even only 28% of Republicans favor deportation.
Border Wall Unpopular and Public Doesn’t Buy Think Mexico Will Pay
Americans are strongly opposed to building a border wall with Mexico, don’t think the wall should be a priority of the Trump Administration, and don’t believe President Trump’s boastful assertions that he will make Mexico pay for the wall. Meanwhile, the Trump budget is seeking $4.1 billion in taxpayer money for a border wall through 2018 —more than ten times what President Obama requested for border security maintenance in the current fiscal year.
- A February CNN poll found that the border wall was growing more unpopular. By a 60-38% margin, Americans oppose building a wall along the entire Mexican border and support for building the wall is cratering as well, dropping from 52% support in September 2015 to 47% support in September 2016 to the current 38% margin in CNN polling.
- A February Pew Research poll found that Americans oppose the border wall by a 62%-35% margin and 70% think the U.S. would have to pay for the wall, while just 16% of Americans think Mexico would pay for it.
- A January CBS News poll found that Americans oppose the border wall by a 59-37% margin and, despite President Trump’s boasts, 79% of respondents think that American taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the wall, while only 14% thought Mexico would pay, as President Trump claims.
- And a Fox News poll recently found that just three percent of registered voters think that Trump’s top priority should be building a wall.