Earlier today, immigration experts and advocates from across the southern border gathered on a press call to discuss the findings of a new poll by the U.S. Immigration Policy Center’s poll which asked voters in the four southern border states what they think about the country’s border and immigration policies, and what they would like to see happen. With less than a year until the 2020 elections, voters at the Southwest border are facing a “crisis in confidence” in Trump’s immigration policies.
Targeting the four southern border states that are constantly impacted by Trump’s destructive and inhumane border and immigration policies, the poll reveals voters’ attitudes in these policies are contrary to the current administration. Despite the president’s belief, his continued hardline immigration policies have not fared well with voters who live in the Southwest. This poll is important because it gives policymakers, elected officials and the country at large critical insights from those most impacted by Trump’s destructive and inhumane border policies. You can read the entire report here.
Among key poll findings:
- Majority disapprove how Trump is handling issues at the border. Net 19.6% disapproval rating of the way the president is handling issues at the U.S.-Mexico border. 56.3% “strongly disapprove” or “disapprove” of the way the president is handling issues at the U.S.-Mexico border
- They don’t trust Border Patrol. Only 1 out of 3, or 33.1%, trust “a great deal” or “a lot” that Border Patrol officials will protect the rights and civil liberties of all people equally
- They want better treatment of asylum seekers. Over 6 out of 10, or 63.2%, say finding alternatives to immigration detention for families fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in the U.S. comes closest to their views
- They believe in providing emergency aid. Over 8 out of 10, or 83.1%, say providing aid such as food and water to people in distress, including migrants who are attempting to cross the border illegally, comes closest to their views
- Majority don’t want to waste more money on wall. After being told about existing border infrastructure and the diversion of federal funds, nearly 6 out of 10, or 58.0%, “strongly oppose” or “oppose” additional federal spending to build more border walls and fencing
- Many have been stopped and questioned at Border Patrol checkpoints: Over 3 out of 10, or 31.1%, have been stopped and questioned about their U.S. citizenship at an interior Border Patrol checkpoint
Vicki B. Gaubeca, Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, said, “Given the current narrative about our beloved borderlands, we were surprised by some of the results. Even in states like Texas and Arizona, which is the state I live in, we were glad to learn that voters in our communities care deeply about responding with humanity and compassion to families who are fleeing violence or simply seeking a better life. We were also surprised to learn that there is very little trust that Border Patrol agents can keep our families safe given their long track record of death and abuse in our communities. We are not surprised, however, that voters want a more humane approach to border governance, and that we need to rethink how we govern our borders.”
Dr. Tom Wong, Director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center, said, “National polls tend to dilute the perspectives that southwestern border state residents have about immigration policies, which can distort our thinking about where the public stands. In addressing this, what we see in the data is that registered voters in the southwestern border states generally lack trust in the Border Patrol and consistently hold border policy preferences that are opposite to those of the current administration.”
Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego, said, “These findings are surprising and not surprising. The Southern border communities have, for some time, been ringing a bell and saying that they want to humanize, not militarize the border. Voters across the Southwest lack confidence that Border Patrol will keep them safe or that agents will be held accountable. It is not surprising that they prefer policies that include alternatives to mass incarceration and include investment in our ports instead of our walls. Southern border communities have come together to draft a New Border Vision that resonates with the findings of the survey. In the New Border Vision, we offer a new direction for policy development that includes our shared values of being given the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – rights which are embedded in our Declaration of Independence and universally shared. It provides guidelines to expand public safety, expand human rights, and to welcome people to our border. The New Border Vision resonates with what the Southern border communities want: a border that revitalizes not militarizes, and that humanizes not criminalizes, in order to create a humane border for the 21st century.”
Christina Patiño Houle, Network Weaver for the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, said, “Only 1 in 3 people trust the Border Patrol to respect human liberties. In Texas, people are fearful of going to grocery stores, dropping their kids off at school, and even using parks near the border walls. There’s even a fear to evacuate during natural disasters, as the possibility of apprehension or questioning of one’s citizenship status is always looming. The community sentiment and data show that at least 60% of Texans don’t want migrants in detention centers or children in CBP care. The detention facilities lack adequate medical resources for migrants, highlighted by the untimely deaths of several children this past summer while under CBP custody. Forcing migrants to wait in Mexico is an inhumane alternative, and the majority of Texans believe that we should allow them to enter the United States while they wait for their court proceedings. Just across the border, tens of thousands await entry while stuck in tent camps and unsafe environments. Voters in Texas stand clearly against the policies of this administration. We are widely pushing for prioritization of human rights and health.”
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said, “This groundbreaking poll is a much-needed corrective to a distorted debate. For too long, people in Washington, DC have debated what’s best for border policy and border communities without listening and learning from those who lives are most directly affected. As a result, border policies have been based on fearmongering, simplistic talking points, ignorance of border realities and a lack of accountability. This poll by Dr. Tom Wong, and the thoughtful work to develop a new vision of good governance at the border and in border communities by SBCC and their allies, should jumpstart an entirely new conversation. Kudos to Dr. Wong and SBCC for standing up to politicians who use the border to score political points, and for bringing forth wisdom, evidence and smart solutions.”