July 8th, 2008
12:01 PM ET
14 years ago

Americans divided on border fence

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/08/art.fence.gi.jpg caption="Americans are divided over building a 700-mile long border fence."]

(CNN) - On the same day both presidential candidates are set to address a major Latino group meeting in Washington, a new poll shows Americans are closely divided when it comes to building a fence along the country's border with Mexico.

According to a new survey from CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation, just over half of Americans nationwide favor building the 700-mile long fence, while 47 percent oppose the idea.

Watch: Congressmen square off on border fence

The poll, conducted on June 26-29, surveyed 1,026 Americans and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland notes Republicans and Democrats are sharply divided on the issue along partisan lines.

"The American public is closely divided but the two parties are not," he said. "Fifty-eight percent of Democrats opposed a fence on the Mexican border, while 66 percent of Republicans favor one. Independents mildly favor a fence, by a 55 percent-44 percent margin."

Though the issue of illegal immigration played a prominent role in the Republican presidential primary, it appears to be well overshadowed heading into the general election by the nation's economic woes, the war in Iraq, and other issues. A recent CNN/ORC poll showed American's ranked the issue ninth in importance to their vote this November.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, both of whom are scheduled to speak before the League of Latin American Citizens in Washington Tuesday, both voted to authorize the building of the fence in the Senate last year. It carries a price tag of over $3 billion. (Read more on the candidates' immigration stances)

Watch: The border fence's environmental impact

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. Felines For Freedom

    I can understand the desire for a fence, but am personally against it because of the environmental toll it presents. It is commonly known that construction of the fence is likely to devastate certain animal populations and I don't think it's right for human animals to condemn nonhuman animals to death or disarray for mere geographic and political purposes.

    July 8, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. Michael

    The government has two responsibilities: to protect us from enemies abroad and to preserve domestic tranquility. All else has been confected. I think a fence, electrified, and zero tolerance for illegal aliens fits well within the government's duties. This is difficult when you have cities like San Francisco hiding felons for the immigration authorities.

    July 8, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. Mike in NYC

    No enforcement means no borders.

    No borders means no nation.

    July 8, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. bridgette

    I think the way to stop illegal immigration is too hit the pockets of the people who hire them. As long as they go unpunished then the problem will continue. In America everything comes down to the pockets. Hit those pockets and the problem will be cut down drastically.

    July 8, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Obama Supporter from FL

    Fence = dumbest idea ever. Frankly, now that our economy isn't as great, a lot of undocumented workers are leaving the US and returning to their home countries anyway. And a fence still isn't going to stop people who are willing to risk their lives to get here.

    July 8, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. mitchell hussein martin

    tear down that wall! ronald reagan. the 'fence' is a terrible waste of money,and halts the flow of marijuana ,which ,apparently,a lot of americans want.legalize it,then people will support stupid fence.

    July 8, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Angus McDugan

    A fence is a patch. This is a larger/more serious problem which needs a larger more thought out solution.

    July 8, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. not an obamabot, thank GOD

    Mike in NYC July 8th, 2008 11:10 am ET

    No enforcement means no borders.

    No borders means no nation

    -which is what they want they want an europen union style govt over here. The north american union will be rolling out once the Feds collapse our dollar and along with it the economy. This will hurt everyone but the top 1%, and mexico. Cant wait to see who is on the Amero once our dollar becomes fancy toilet paper.

    July 8, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. What Will It Help?

    Build a fence and people will just climb over it. Why even bother? It is not going to do anything but cost more money and time and will not help anything. We are the land of opportunity. Why not up the entrance standards and make it where people WANT to become American citizens legally rather than become an illegal alien?

    July 8, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. DJ Los Angeles

    Amazing how much America has become like the Romans, when the built Hadrian's Wall to keep the Scottish out of Britain.

    Same concept here...we need a wall/fence to protect the borders from over a million each year that cross over without any screening or documentation. But we also need to help with birth/population control and trying to work with Mexico to improve labor conditions so they want to stay in their own country

    July 8, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. richard

    a border fence is the dumbest plan i have ever heard of. figures it would originate from republicans.

    sure, a fense would work fine to keep illegal mexicans out... after all, these people haven't mastered how to climb yet, have they? oh wait...

    how about next we choose to dig a 700 mile long mote and fill it with aligators. sound like a good plan?

    in short, no physical obstacle will prevent illegal mexicans from crossing. these people are humans and have brains.

    July 8, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. katiec

    I believe a fence is not what America is all about.
    What about the Berlin wall. We were very upset
    about that.
    If Bush/McCain were not in bed with the leader of
    Mexico and truly supported our border patrol we
    would not have this problem.
    If Mexico offered jobs, etc to their citizens, tried to
    improve living conditions for them, cared about
    their people you would not see so much crossing
    of the borders. As it is, they encourage illegal
    immigration so they will not have to deal with
    their countries problems.

    July 8, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. DonnieJ

    Wouldn't that $3 billion be spent better on something else?

    People will find a way around the fence, and it will have gotten us nowhere. Not worth the $$ or environmental price.

    Shrill "Minutemen" types are off their rocker and need to get a life.

    July 8, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Doyle - MI

    It's unfortunate that it takes terror attacks for a large number of Americans to see the need to secure our borders.

    July 8, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. paulie_nj

    Don't worry, Obama will change (flip-flop) his position on this at some point.

    July 8, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. Allison- Mclean, Va

    So called "conservatives" not only want to control people's rights by allowing our government to spy on us, but now they also want to spend millions of tax dollars building a big fence around us. I thought conservatives were suppose to want small government.

    The areas of our boarder that already have a fence up are ineffective. There are holes everywhere, there are tunnels that run underneath the boarder. Putting up a fence is not only a waste of money, it is waste of money that makes us look like Nazi Germany. This is another bad idea from a utterly clueless party.

    July 8, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. Bobby

    Indeed, Bush's plan to bankrupt our economy was brilliant immigration strategy–if we're as poor as Mexico, who'll want to sneak in?

    Seriously though, it's a manufactured solution to a manufactured problem. Yes there are some immigration problems, but nothing that can't be dealt with cheaper and more humanely and with respect for the natural environment than a huge fence.

    July 8, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. ARB

    A fence is about the dumbest idea ive ever heard....that wont do a thing to control illegals coming here if they want too....if you wanna keep illegals out, you gotta have a better idea than that....they will keep coming back for more and deporting them wont do anything either.

    July 8, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. Jeff

    I've been a Democrat for 30 years and think that the 58 percent of Democrats that oppose such a barrier are idiots. It's time that the Mexican government was forced to address the problems that force Mexican citizens to enter this country illegally. The United States can no longer afford to be the dumping ground for the impoverished or otherwise unwanted citizens of Mexico and the rest of Latin America. As the grandson of a Mexican immigrant who came to this country legally, I do sympathize with the plight of those who come here looking for a better life. Unfortunately our resources are not unlimited. It's time these people started looking to the governments of their home countries to address their problems. Uncle Sam cannot continue to be the only answer.

    July 8, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. N Kannan

    The best fence you can build is enforcement of existing laws on employers. You need uncomplaining cheap workers to pluck your tomatoes, clean your table at your cousin's restaurant and mow the lawns. You wink and nod when your cousin picks these people to work and then complain about illegals and building a fence. A skilled worker cannot be hired by a company without checking their legalitty to work in the U.S. Why should a farm be exempt? Illegals don't vote and so don't have a voice. Employers are happy as long as people blame the illegals. No work, no illegal immigration. That's the best fence you can build..

    July 8, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  21. ARB

    A fence is about the dumbest idea ive ever heard....that wont do a thing to control illegals coming here if they want too....if you wanna keep illegals out, you gotta have a better idea than that....they will keep coming back for more and deporting them wont do anything either.

    July 8, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. Bud

    The fence is a catastrophic boondoggle. This will be an insidiouos, innefective joke that we will talk about for generations.

    We need a NATIONAL ID and REAL punishment for those who hire undocumented workers. Then we can begin to raise wages and be able to better afford the REAL healthcare and education programs we've needed for fifty years.

    Mr. Obama, stop the building of this wall.

    July 8, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Lisa Dixon

    Fence = Dumbest idea ever next to the war. We need leaders smart enough to really address the problems of today. If things don't CHANGE we need to really start praying hard for our grandchildren. I say lets move forward not backwards.

    July 8, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Something New

    I agree Angus. I am tired of hearing quick fix solutions that any average Joe could come up with. It is high time for politicians in Washington to start earning their salaries.

    July 8, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. Mike, Syracuse NY

    If they put a $500 reward for every illegal turned in to the Immigration Service it would be cheaper, and incentivize every American to help.

    July 8, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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