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Americans Oppose Border Walls, Favor Dealing With DACA

Americans Oppose Border Walls, Favor Dealing With DACA

Story Highlights

  • 41% favor expanding construction of walls along U.S.-Mexico border
  • 83% approve of allowing DACA immigrants to become citizens
  • Republicans, Democrats agree on DACA, disagree on walls

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The majority of Americans (57%) oppose expanding the construction of walls along the nation's Southern border, a centerpiece of President Donald Trump's proposed immigration-related policies. At the same time, a large majority of Americans favor allowing immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to have a pathway to U.S. citizenship. Both proposals are included in at least one of the two Republican-sponsored bills the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to vote on this week.

Americans also modestly oppose the idea of ending the policy of allowing immigrants who are legally in the U.S. to sponsor relatives to move to the country. Slightly more favor than oppose banning "sanctuary cities."

Bar graphs: Americans' views on four immigration policy proposals, June 2018. 83% favor/strongly favor a DACA recipient path to citizenship.

Public opposition to building more border walls is not new. Previous Gallup research and surveys conducted by a number of other organizations over the past several years show a consistent opposition to the idea of building new walls between the U.S. and Mexico.

Gallup's most recent survey, conducted June 1-13, shows 57% opposed to "significantly expanding the construction of walls along the U.S.-Mexico border" and 41% in favor.

In contrast to Americans' majority opposition to building more walls, a proposal to deal with the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and extend the possibility of citizenship to immigrants covered under this program receives overwhelming support. Eighty-three percent of Americans favor or strongly favor a proposal to allow "immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, the chance to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain requirements over a period of time," while 15% oppose or strongly oppose it.

Although the Trump administration attempted to end the DACA program, it is still in force and at this point, the general idea to broaden DACA rules has support from many politicians, although agreement on details and revising the program remains difficult to find. While the so-called compromise immigration plan that a group of conservative and moderate Republicans are proposing includes a path to citizenship for DACA children, a more conservative alternative bill does not.

Two other immigration proposals were tested in the June survey.

  • Fifty-two percent of Americans oppose a proposal to end "programs by which legal immigrants can sponsor relatives living abroad to move to the U.S. as permanent legal residents," while 45% favor ending such programs. Family-based immigration has been another focal point of the Trump administration's immigration policies, and both Republican bills would curtail it.

  • Americans are split on the idea of banning sanctuary cities "by requiring local governments to cooperate with U.S. agencies trying to enforce federal immigration laws." Exactly half of Americans favor this idea, while 46% are opposed. Cities in a number of states have policies by which they do not cooperate with federal officials attempting to detain or arrest individuals suspected of being in the country illegally.

The survey, which began on June 1, did not address the currently controversial issue of separating children from their parents when immigrants cross the U.S. border illegally.

##SPEEDBUMP##

Republicans and Democrats Differ Most on Border Walls, Sanctuary Cities

Unusual in today's highly polarized political environment, Republicans and Democrats have broadly similar attitudes toward two of the four immigration policies tested, while adopting the expected polar-opposite positions on the other two proposals.

Attitudes Toward Immigration Proposals, by Party
Republicans/Leaners Democrats/Leaners
% Favor/Strongly favor % Favor/Strongly favor
Allowing immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, the chance to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain requirements over a period of time 75 92
Banning "sanctuary cities" by requiring local governments to cooperate with U.S. agencies trying to enforce federal immigration laws 77 29
Significantly expanding the construction of walls along the U.S-Mexico border 73 13
Ending programs by which legal immigrants can sponsor relatives living abroad to move to the U.S. as permanent legal residents 43 47
GALLUP, June 1-13, 2018

Strong majorities of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (75%) as well as Democrats and Democratic leaners (92%) favor allowing immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to have a chance to become U.S. citizens. This reflects the unusual political dynamic that has leaders of both parties saying they favor finding some type of solution to the DACA situation.

Although Trump has strongly advocated ending family-based migration, less than half of both Republicans and Democrats agree that banning the practice would be a good idea.

On the other hand, there is huge disagreement between partisan groups on Trump's signature policy proposal to build more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. Seventy-three percent of Republicans favor this proposal, compared with 13% of Democrats.

And there is almost as much disagreement on the issue of banning sanctuary cities by requiring local governments to cooperate with federal immigration agencies, with 77% of Republicans in favor compared with 29% of Democrats.

Bottom Line

Passing immigration legislation has proven extremely difficult historically, and the current efforts involve prospective trade-offs between desired policy outcomes on both sides -- including the currently controversial policies that separate children from parents who enter illegally at the border. These recent data show that if Congress follows the will of the majority of Americans, it would include a path to citizenship for DACA recipients in any bill passed and would not legislate funding to build additional walls between the U.S. and Mexico. At least half of Americans would also tilt toward having Congress ban sanctuary cities and allowing family-based migration to continue.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-13, 2018, with a random sample of 1,520 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Each immigration item was asked of a randomly selected half of the sample. For results based on each of these half samples of approximately 750 adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup


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