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. Anita from Arizona

    I totally agree with you Bridgette.

    Hit the companies that hire illegals with stiff penalties and fines.

    July 8, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Joe the Troll

    I guess some republicans have their eyes on those avocado picking jobs now that simultaneous war and tax breaks have provided the expected result.

    July 8, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. John

    Yes! I think Republicans, Conservative Democrats and Independents should unite against Obama and his elitism that would lead us to the one world George Soros idea of society.

    Obama is a dangerous dangerous politician

    July 8, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    The idea that our government leaders even considered the concept of a fence bordering the expanse of our border makes one concerned about their powers of reasoning and respect for our tax dollars. The fact that despite our objections–they are still wasting our hard earned tax dollars in this money pit of a plan–is despicable.

    Vote against all incumbents. Time to clean house.

    July 8, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. marek

    The fence today is to keep illegal emigrants out, the fence tomorrow
    might keep U.S. citizens in.
    People wake up we do not have illegal emigration problem we have illegal employment problem fence will not fix that.

    July 8, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Walter, Long Beach

    Here's another fence that McCain can come down on both sides of.

    July 8, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. A Recovering Republican

    Until the government is willing to enforce immigration laws for everyone, including big corporations, and is willing to stop paying government benefits or allowing illegal immigrants to give birth to "citizens" and claim their families are being torn apart, a fence will do little. The money we spend on "stopping" crossings is futile and should be shifted to enforcement.

    At the same time, we need a viable immigrant worker program to allow for those who want to work at low paying jobs to come in here legally and be controlled if they break our laws.

    Finally, we need to force our neighbors to the south to do more economically for their citizens to keep so many from coming north, and to charge them for the costs we incur by their citizens from coming here.

    That is, we need comprehensive reform and "security first" won't every happen, so we need to go beyond the placebo and pablum of a quick fix such as this fence.

    10 years sober

    July 8, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Tom Dawson

    Why would anyone believe an idea born from an administration/congress that hasn't gotten anything right in almost eight years. Forget the wall (I just wonder which friends of the Bush/Chaney duet would be building it?) and enforce systems already in place – enhancing them as necessary.

    July 8, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. RH

    Build it to the sky. What's the point of hard borders if you're not going to defend them? The fence isn't going to solve the problem all on it's own, but it will certainly help.

    July 8, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. James Hussein, SC

    Build the fense. Don't worry about the animals. We need to protect our boarders. Grant work visas liberally, pending clear identification of potential immergrants. Set time limits (re-newable) of stay; and have them pay into our tax system like everyone else. But most important, STOP THE DRUG TRAFFIC FROM COMING INTO OUR COUNTRY!

    July 8, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Annie

    There are so many political issues that need attention and CNN picks THIS as a story?

    Come on CNN we know you have been pulling for Obama since the beginning but you have gone from being biased to being ridiculous.

    July 8, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. Not fooled by distractions

    A fence is a horrible waste of money – where there's a will there's a way – they'll get here nonetheless. The key to a solution is the employers – if you go after them we may see a difference – and I'm not talking $100 fines – hit them hard and make it hurt or their practices will continue.

    July 8, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. ProundToBeDemocrat

    America is a nation of immigrants, why are the white people crying about immigration now, all the white people where immigrated from eruope majority of the from england. The only reason people like Lou Dobbs, Rush limbo, Hanniy and Bill O'relley cry is because if more not irish immigrant come to usa then idoits like them would not be able to compute with the new immigrants so they are trying to defend their position, you can be dumb and irish but still have a good job and money, but very soon all this is going to change.

    July 8, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. Connie

    Watch for our ladder companies to move south of the border. High walls plus tall ladders equal crossing the border.I am for spending all the money we have left,Oh, sorry all the money we can get from China.Barack"hussein"Obama 08

    Connie"Hussein"Sturgeon from Indiana

    July 8, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Bob from Pittsburgh

    The border fence to stop illegals is as stupid as the guy that finds his wife smooching with another guy in the living room couch, and his solution is to burn the couch.

    July 8, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Ceebee

    The fence is an idiotic idea. Build a 25' fence, someone has a 35' ladder. Bridgette is right, as long as American companies are hiring these people they are going to find a way to enter this country. Add insult to injury, much of the steel and pipe that was used to construct the fence was produced in China at a time when US Steel manufacturers are struggling to remain in business.

    July 8, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. Bob Stephens

    Criminals, rapists, drug dealers, and potential terrorists stream into our country every day, with no end in site. Build a fence and bring our troops home from this stupid war in Iraq and let them guard our borders.

    July 8, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Scott L

    National guard needs to be put on the borders. Period. Tom Clancy proposed this years ago and I still believe it is the right course of action.

    If you are in the national guard, spend 1 week out of your year guarding the US borders. There are enough guards to be able to cycle annually and watch the majority of BOTH the southern and northern borders.

    So simple.

    July 8, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. MurphyMorseJohnson

    The Fence is a joke! The concept was technologically adequate when the Chinese built the Great Wall. When Congress finally determines what the meaning of a border signifies, perhaps and only perhaps, it will come up with a better idea! On this issue, watch out for huge trade-offs and pork barrel legislation.

    July 8, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Rick

    Of course democrats are opposed to it. Democrats are opposed to everything that we need to do to fix our problems. They are opposed to fighting terrorists, they are opposed to drilling for oil, they are opposed to building the fence, etc., etc. The drain that these illegals put on our economy(crime, medical costs, etc.) is staggering. And all you nitwit environmentalists should be first in line to stop the illegal invasion because it just adds to "evil" America's carbon footprint.

    July 8, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Jaime

    Mexicans will figure a way to defeat the silly fence. As matter of fact we should ask them to find Osama for us. It seem like "they" get stuff done in our country.

    I think it's time for the US to stop blaming the hardest working segment of our permanent illegal population.

    July 8, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Think

    The fence idea is not going to work. Part of a real solution is to punish companies that hire undocumented workers, offer an "easy" way for imigrants to apply for work visas, offer realistic paths for naturalization, use more technology to monitor borders, make some deals with neighboring countries.

    Please get some smart people to come up with a real solution.

    July 8, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. JB

    Where there is a fence, you do not need man power. With fewer border patrol agents than we need, this IS A FIX.

    ANd regards to the environmental effects, have you seen what is done to the environment by the illegals coming over. The border looks like a dump. It would be better for the environment if we stopped this madness.

    July 8, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. TruthBknown

    Great Idea...welcome to East Berlin!

    July 8, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. Robert in Seattle

    Enforcment is the answer! Unfortunately it will mean shutting down some of my favorite taco places in Arizona. BTW who do you think is being hired to build this fence? Why not help Mexico improve their economy and make it desireable to stay there? Or maybe we should just move all our factories there and just have service industry jobs here to serve the wealthy?

    note: you can still get real Coca Cola from Mexico, real sugar, no corn syrup!

    P.S. Refined Sugar is still Sugar! Refined positions are refined, not changed. Unlike a complete reversal on tax breaks for the rich.

    July 8, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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