July 8th, 2008
12:01 PM ET
13 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. Toni

    Let's see – educating our children; a cure for AIDS and cancer; social and psycholigical support for the thousands of returning veterans and their families; a healthy population ... or a fence to keep Mexicans out ...what a difficult decision. Gee!

    July 8, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. ILLEGAL= NEW DEMOCRATS VOTES

    CANADA NO PROBLEM THEY ARE NOT SUCKING DRY OUR TAX PAYER ,MEXICANSILLEGAL ....THEY LOVE WALFARE FREE MEDICARE FREE SCHOOL EVERYTHING FREE FREE...AND THATS ME..ME..ME.. I WANT ALL AMERICANS OUR LAND...IAMERICANS SUCKER

    July 8, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. Chelle

    We must find a way to secure our borders. I don't know if a fence is the solution or not. Employers who hire illegals have an easy out by saying "well they produced documents saying they were legal to work. How would I know they were fakes?" If the government would require all employers to E-Verify status on all employees, then the employers could be help accountable. Once these employers who hire illegals are facing stiff fines and jail time, the flow of illegals into this country from the south will subside considerably. If they can't find work, why would they want to come here. I don't believe that we have a big problem with illegal Canadians coming into the northern states and working mowing our yards.

    July 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. Minor Collinsworth

    Bring the troops home from Kosovo, South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gemany and Japan. Put them on our borders. Stop spending ourselves broke defending losers and ingrates. Put the Defense back in the Department of Defense.

    July 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Raymond Duke

    There is really not to much division here except the media trying to portay it with their B.S. I hear people like Bill Richardson and the other liberals stating that a fence will not work. Being one of these old people that served twenty years in the military and having the privilige of serving in Korea and being in East Berlin before the wall fell I can say absolutely a wall will work if it is properly manned and constucted. with the proper devices.. Very few people exscaped from East Berlin in all the years it was intact. You don't see people pouring out of north Korea do you.. All it takes is resolve. Put up the fence, put in a mine field with signs stating it in different langauges and armed towers and roving armed patrols with orders to shoot after the first warning and then take the actions required . The border crossing will stop.

    July 8, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Bill

    Let's get real. The fence is just another wasted ploy from Washington. Watch the hen house folks. The illegal employers are the reason our borders were stampeded from the south and that has made it easy for criminals to get here. If we shut down the illegal employers, the flow will stop, most will go home, and it will be much easier to keep criminals out. But a fence is just another minor inconvenience that will be overcome.

    July 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Michael

    A fence is a great idea, lets keep jobs and services to the americans that deserve them!

    July 8, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. mk

    We need to do what we can. We CAN build a fence. It's not foolproof for all of our borders, but it will slow the traffic to more manageable levels.

    July 8, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. NewAmericancitizen

    You only need to watch 20 seconds of immigrants hating from Lou Dobbs to understand why voting Obama is the way to go. As a new American citizen, my vote, and thousands of others will go to Obama. Wake up Latino brothers and sisters.

    July 8, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. Cry me a river!

    MCCAIN AND OBAMA voted for the fence!!! The word "illegal" means just that "illegal" so when we talk about illegal (mexicans) that means they are here illegally. Send them back to Mexico and build that fence! But the government also needs to crack down on employers who are hiring them. If the government does these three things then illegal immigration will soon decline. Not go away. It will never go away. But maybe more of them will come here legally instead. Then less money will be spent over time tracking these people down and more tax income for the government to help cover such costs.

    July 8, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. me

    As long as thier not coming over here and breaking the really important laws i don't see why we need a fence. A fence will not keep them out even if we do build it.

    July 8, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. Belle

    Actually, if anyone ever bothered to look at Obama's record, he voted FOR the fence....even though it would go right through a University campus in Texas....smooth move ex-lax.....

    July 8, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Mike

    Comprehensive plan:

    1. BIG fence
    2. NO sanctuary cities
    3. NO benefits to illegals
    4. Employee ID job application checks (valid SS #'s)
    5. Employer fines when they knowingly hire illegals
    6. Bill country of origin for social costs i.e., medical, administrative, correctional, etc.

    Bottom Line: welcome all who get in line, and come here legally or........don't come at all.

    July 8, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. Mark

    The two biggest threats to our economy and national security are our dependence on foreign oil, and our national debt, not illegal immigration. 3 billion dollars for a 700 mile fence is a waste of money. Our national debt is over 9 trillion dollars, yet both candidates support this waste as if illegals won't climb over it or dig under it. Sounds like both candidates need some advisors.

    July 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. James Nelson

    Just what this country needs– a fence we can't afford, patrolled by people we can't pay. In the meantime, the value of my house is plummeting and the cost of a tank of gas for my car is skyrocketing.

    Yeah, I'd say Mexicans are sure the real problem, alright.

    July 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Jerry

    Secure the boders no excuse.....

    July 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Joyce

    Wow. This doesn't give McCain supporters a bad name at all, does it? YEEEEEEEHAAAAAAWWWWWW!!!

    "NO OBAMA NO July 8th, 2008 1:00 pm ET

    I live in San Antonio Texas and we already have huge illegal population TO MANY. We need to have some forms of control. We DON'T need NO MORE ILLEGALS in the United States. Don't VOTE FOR OBAMA if you do we will be a 3rd world county and like the old saying GOES there goes the neighbor hood. The Values of our county will go down even more with a Black Man in the White House.

    NO MORE ILLEGALS PLEASE.

    NO OBAMA NO"

    July 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. mman

    Build a $3B fence? Why do we elect people to come up completely unimaginative and ineffectual solutions. No fence will keep any illegal immigrant worth his salt from from crossing the border into the "paradise" we live in.

    Even the great china wall did not do the job. What was the price tag of that?

    July 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. Raymond Duke

    Some of you people need to grow up. You can't save the world. If these people want a better country then over throw their crooked goverment. You know why they don't. Because they can come here and demonstrate and don't have to worry about being harmed , plus they get all the free bees including welfare, food stamps , free medical care and schooling.

    July 8, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Pepou

    A border fence is ludicrous. Just as the apartheid wall, separating Israel from the territories it illegally occupies sinc e 1967. Or the Berlin wall for that matter.

    July 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. JDC // Ohio

    I do NOT believe this story ar all; te American people are tired of our open borders and the country flooded with illegals!!!!!

    July 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. JoeMamma

    This poll is skewed. Over 80% of legal citizens want a fence.
    The rest want cheap labor, drugs, or are part of the dying Catholic Church.

    July 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. Peter E

    Border fence is a non-effective 'quick fix' that's at best useful for scoring political points. It doesn't solve the problem. The problem is that our government, while having tough-talked every other country in the remote recesses of the world, refuses to even ask Mexico to fix its own economy. They're leeching off of us because their government won't create jobs. In fact we've given them the comfort with our advocacy of 'land of opportunity' that they can dump all their excess labor on us.
    It is time we told the Mexican government to stop using us a feeding tube and start creating jobs themselves!
    In the meantime we should punish employers who use these immigrants as cheap, underpaid slave labor and evading due taxes!

    July 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Jerry Fallwell

    The workers that come here are males.

    They come for a better life because American companies can break minimum wage laws, pay them less, they can ship the money back home and still make a better standard of living for those that remain.

    How about we let the chicas come? They could practice the world's oldest profession at lower rates than Americans. Win win for everybody, right?

    July 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Piper

    I thought the US was for PULLING DOWN walls, not putting them up. Even the Republicans tried to get the Berlin Wall to fall. So, why are we putting up a fence? As Gov. Bill Richardson has said, put up a 10 foot wall and someone will come up with an 11 foot ladder.....We can "secure" our borders other ways–electronics, etc.

    I agree that we need to know who is coming into our country–but let's also control those coming in "legally" via VISAs, etc. They come in and are never found again, melting into the general population. Who knows what they are up to or are preparing for?!

    July 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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