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. Smlybob

    *GRANT* I'm in Ohio and have had my identity stolen by an illegal Mexican which I do know for a fact; I have all the documentation on it from the company who hired me "HER". So anyone, anywhere can be affected by this. The fact is the majority of Americans want this.

    July 8, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. snore

    Fences make good neighbors.

    But how about instead of building a fence, we teach the friggin Mexican elites about basic capitalism so that their people don't have a REASON to cross the border looking for work. Oh, that's right... the Mexican elites don't care about Capitalism, because there are a handful of extremely wealthy families and interests that control everything in Mexico and keep the average Mexican citizen dirt, dirt poor.

    Don't believe me? Try going to a bank and getting a loan in Mexico. You'll likely be arrested on the spot for murder, because your comment causes the entire bank staff to burst out in uncontrollable laughter and one of them dies of a heart attack from laughing so hard.

    July 8, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Jane

    I grew up on the Mexican border. I saw both sides of the E. Berlin wall before and after it fell. Walls don't work.

    What does the Earth look like from space? This is how I believe God would like it to be.

    July 8, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Fred

    I'd like to note that every great nation which decided to build a giant "wall" to keep people out ended up regretting it.

    July 8, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Allen from Hartwell, GA

    I don't like locking up my house or paying for an alarm system, but that's the way it is. I have lived in several countries, and they all have and enforce laws protecting their citizens. Some groups in the USA, such as the Chamber of Commerce on the other hand, seem to think we need this cheap labor to support their greed.

    July 8, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. LB

    Who cares!...immigrants will still get past...let's move on to high gas prices, and foreclosures.

    July 8, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Dems be dopes

    We were so evenly divided last year that those that opposed the fence shut down the switchboards at Congress.

    Sounds a tad less than evenly devided to me, but then again this the Obama/Clinton News Network.

    Probably have to press 2 for Spanish there also.

    A third world population begets a third world nation.

    July 8, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Illegals hurt the economy. Period. If you disagree, don't read any further. This is a complex issue because this economy was built on slave labor and has thrived since the Civil War by having a segment of the work force working for slave wages, usually illegal immigrants.

    I think the best long term solution is to make it harder for illegals to DESIRE to come to this country. That means cracking down on employers who hire illegals and take advantage of them. I do not believe in amnesty.

    The fence is waste of time and money. Sure we need border security, but a determined person will get through to reach his reward. Take away the rewards for entering illegally.

    July 8, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. andy

    Well lets talk truth ! why are there so many black activist in los angeles who would love a fence off the mexicans and those that are on the borders with the minute men ? So Latinos why is it we have 2 persons stating they want to help the Latino commu8nity but at the same time there supporters do not feel the same way so be careful of the wolf is all I can say ! Im Latino

    July 8, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. LB

    You can go to the local home improvement store and round up tons of illegal immigrants....stop wasting your money on a stupid fence. As Obama would say, "purely a gimmick."

    July 8, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Geoff

    I'm opposed to the idea of a fence for one reason only: it won't work and will be a waste of our money. On Penn & Teller's B.S. show on immigration, they build a fence exactly like the one the gov is proposing to build. Know how long it took some real life illegal immigrants to get over/under/through it? 3 minutes. 3 billion dollars to add a 3 minute delay to illegal border crossers.

    July 8, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Americano con sazon(with spice)

    To all of the people that say we should have a fence up I say-
    First take a trip to Mexico(not Cancun party animals) anywhere else in Mexico and see what it is like. Then after you have experienced the poverty firsthand then you can comment and have an educated opinion. Until then shut your yaps and get educated!
    George Washington would be ashamed of some of these comments.

    July 8, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Phil-Little Rock

    Anything to keep a couple of illegal Ernesto's out of this fair land.

    July 8, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Victoria

    One thing that bothers me about this, is that the fence isn't even following the border. They are taking shortcuts across Texas, meaning that there are complete cities that will be on the other side of the fence. That is so wrong.

    July 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Marie Ontario

    Hey don't knock the Canadian/U.S. border as this is the greatest example of free trade there is anywhere in the world. Yes Americans smuggle guns into Canada and Canadians smuggle dope into America.

    The other example of free trade won't help anyone in either the U.S. or Canada since all the decent paying jobs have left both countries and gone to either Mexico or Asia.

    Go McCain equals go jobs equals sell dope and guns to make a decent living and that is the Republican way.

    July 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Pat Riot

    This is a proper role of government to secure our borders and provide for a strong national defense. Government does many things that it should not do these days...It needs to do something right for a change.

    July 8, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. rexx

    Why is this even an issue? Good grief it is only a fence. There are no machine gun nests behind it mowing down the illegals. Hey I think this whole issue is overblown we in fact need immigrants but geez people it is just a fence.Welcome to President McCain.

    July 8, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. Daniel, WA

    I support this fence. We have controlled the illegals in San Diego area so it is a must. This is important for our future and future of our children and grand children.

    July 8, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. Richard

    First of all, i could care less about the illegals we have in the usa now. The us goverment should just legalize them, give them a ssn that only illegals would have, do a complete backround check, and if they work and speak english let them stay. however, the first time they get into trouble with the law, they should be sent back with no exceptions!! Also, to stop the current inflow of illegals, they should hire those that already came over to protect the boarder and if there is one that gets buy, that person that let them should be put back in mexico and the one that got by takes over guarding the boarder, sounds crazy but it would work or just make mexico a state of the usa and then we would have a place to dump garbage, have u seen mexico, not a lot of attraction if you ask me!

    July 8, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. not an obamabot, thank GOD

    I love all the pro mexico people. Its not OK for the US to protect its borders, but it is ok for mexico to do it. Its not OK for the US to arrest Ilegal aliens, but in mexico it is. Question to all the US haters and mexico sympathizers, Why is it OK for EVERY other country to protect their borders, BUT the United states of mexico cant do anything to protect its borders? and to all the people pointing out how nobody says anything about canadians, well there arent 12-20 million canadians here illegaly, so the problem isnt as dire. however the fence isnt a good idea cuz it wont fix anything, its like putting a bandaid on a gun shot wound.
    plus illegals are getting really good money to work in construction and in the oil fields in Texas, I know alot of Americans who would like to make what some of them are making.

    July 8, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Paul

    A fence is a terrible idea. Just because we don't support the fence doesn't mean we don't want to support enforcing our borders. Its just that it won't work. The fence can't be patrolled everywhere, 24/7. Fences that are already up don't work. Will this be a magical fence? Will it not be susceptible to cutting tools? Will it not be susceptible to climbing? Will it not be susceptible to digging underneath it? Stop touting, "we need to enforce our borders" as an argument for this fence. Explain to me how it would actually be effective (impervious against cutting, climbing, and digging) and maybe I'll consider it. Seeing how its impossible for a fence to be as such and still be economically worth it, I'm left to believe that those who support the fence are just ignorant in the world of physics. Businesses all over are practically calling the illegal immigrants over. Punish them and you'll see illegal immigration dropping drastically. Just remember, its a lot more effective to try treat the cause as opposed to treating the symptom.

    July 8, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. ps

    Griff July 8th, 2008 1:36 pm ET

    "Who care's it wont help him. This guy will never be a leader of anything. But the Black King… There ios no place for a guy in Real Government: Who wasn't born i n the USA, who really knows where this guy was born. Call this guy anything the Blacks think is Bias, and your a Racist….. The Blacks have this idea this is their right, even though he is a Foreigner. That never served his eleged country in any way…. He will be gone after November, and good ridance…../."


    Who wasn't born i n the USA – HE WAS BORN IN HI = U.S.A
    he is a Foreigner = HE IS NOT A FOREIGNER

    July 8, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. reasonable

    "Why have a fence? People will just climb over it."

    Well then why have doors with locks on your house? A robber is just going to find a way in if he really wants to.

    The fact is that a fence will stop at least some people. It's a start.

    July 8, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. larry buchas

    Have Lou Dobbs patrol the border. He would be perfect for the job since he worries about it more than anyone else. We can all get him a horse.

    July 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. 2012

    Jeez, people......so many comments comparing a border fence to the Berlin wall. That's plain stupid. How, exactly, does it have any effect on LEGAL egress at LEGAL border crossings?

    As far as a physical fence, though, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Google "Operation Igloo White" and you can see what we were doing 40 yrs ago on the other side of the world (yeah, been there, done that, got the t-shirt....). With current technology, I believe we could control the borders cheaper and more effectively with sensors than with a fence.

    July 8, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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