A new poll indicates that only a third of likely U.S. voters think the U.S. border with Mexico is secure and illustrates the political obstacles to broader reforms sought by immigrant advocacy groups.
According to a new survey by Rasmussen Reports, just 30 percent of likely U.S. voters think the border with Mexico is even somewhat secure, while 64 percent disagree and say it is not secure. The survey comes during the same week that President Obama delivered a speech touting his administration’s border security and federal immigration law enforcement achievements, and arguing it is now time to begin more comprehensive immigration reforms.
Obama called on Republicans to focus on comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, called for more enforcement. U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner wrote: “Under President Obama, illegal immigration continues, our Southern border is still not secure, enforcement of current immigration laws has decreased, and our system not only fails to discourage illegal immigration but actively rewards those who break the law with government benefits.”
The poll suggests the political climate favors those, including congressional Republicans, who argue the current administration has not done enough to tighten border security.
Rasmussen has been accused in the past of conducting polls designed to lend support to positions favored by the GOP. For example, one of the poll’s questions is worded as follows:
Most voters say securing the border is a higher priority than addressing the status of illegal immigrants already in the country. Is the border now secure enough to begin dealing with the issue of illegal immigrants already living in the United States?
Rasmussen’s results themselves have generally proven reliable, despite objections from Democrats (at least prior to the 2010 elections, where their results were found to be “biased and inaccurate”). However, polling experts have expressed skepticism about the wording of their questions, as well as the timing of their surveys, which sometimes seem to “dovetail with conservative media narratives,” as this one apparently does.
The survey also indicates that over 50 percent of Democrats believe the southern border is secure, while 86 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independent voters disagree. The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted on May 11-12.
By some measures, border security has clearly gotten tighter in recent years, under both the Obama and Bush administrations. There are now over 20,700 active border patrol agents a historical high, 85 percent of them on the Mexican border. In 2010 the Obama administration had deported more immigrants per year than George W. Bush. And the White House 2012 budget proposal calls for increased spending for federal immigration enforcement agencies.