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. Ms. Sims

    I think the fence is vital to the security of our country. Not only do you have drugs flowing freeling across the borders, but you have criminals and illegals coming over. Who's to say that terrorist couldn't get in through the Canadian or Mexican borders. I support immigration but you have to go about it in the legal way. I pay a crap load of taxes every check and if people are going to be benefiting i.e. schools, roads, etc then they should be contributing too. Just image the revenue the country would be getting if all the people getting paid "under the table" were paying taxes on that!

    July 8, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Anonymous in CO

    Until our current laws are enforced and the employers receive stiff penalities for hiring the illeglas a fence isn't going to make any difference. The employers hire these people at sub-standard wages instead of hiring American citizens. These same employers cheat the American taxpayer because they don't pay their employer FICA taxes into the social security and medicare system because they chose to hire illegals. They also don't pay their required state's unemployment or disability taxes. The employers are getting off cheap by not hiring American citizens. The other issue we need to address to stop the flow of people coming over our borders is – no baby born on U.S. soil is an automatic citizen if their parents are not U.S. citizens!!!

    July 8, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. Dave

    The fence is worthless. People will find away around, over, under or through the fence, it will do nothing but force them to try a little harder. A fence is like treating the symptom without treating the cause of the illness. They come here to work. If you spent half the money they spend on boarder fences and patrols on actually punishing those that hire them, you'd solve the problem, and a program like that could even fund itself through fines.
    Stop the employers and you'll stop the problem.
    Build a fence and they'll just find another way in as long as they can get jobs.

    July 8, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Bill From Florida

    Since we are spending billions in Iraq, we need to build this fence to protect the american people.This is a no brainer.

    July 8, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Both McCain and Obama are wrong on this border fence issue. It is the dumb and a waste of tax payer money.

    Bottom line, why do illegal immigrants come to America? ANSWER: Mostly for jobs.

    Now, who are hiring illegal immigrants? ANSWER: Mostly American businesses.

    America doesn't need a border fence. America needs enforcement of immigration laws with strong emphasis on penalizing businesses and people who hire illegal immigrants! If that means making government (specifically the Department of Labor) bigger, then so be it!

    July 8, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Rave

    What is Flip Flopper Mr.McPain saying about this...well his brain is not connected to his tounge and he doesn't remember anyway.
    Mr.Obama is the only one who has vision and judgement to fix all the mess.. not just immigration, border security, gas prices, economy, education, security – everything (including putting McPain in a mental institution)
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    July 8, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. Blue California

    I'm no politician, but isn't building a 700 mile fence on a 2,000 mile border, a waste of money, and a huge insult to the intelligence of Mexicans?

    July 8, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. Andy J, NY

    Bring troops home from bases abroad and station them on the border fence that should be built.

    Place harsh fines on companies who hire illegal immigrants.

    Drop illegal immigrants over the fence and tell them "You don't have to go home, but you have to get the heck out of here. Good luck."

    There's a war going on where people are being decapitated, bodies burned, and other forms of execution- and its not in Iraq. Its right across the border in Mexico. We need to get this under control, and do it now.

    July 8, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. Erik, Austin TX

    Ask the people who actually live and work along the border, and they are overwhelmingly against the idea of a border fence. These are the people this will have the most impact on, and these are the people whose land is being taken away to build this thing. Americans in many cases are losing access to the Rio Grande, which in many cases is crucial to their livelihoods, because the government wants to put a band-aid on the immigration issue.

    The fence and other similar measures are strangling the legal traffic going across the border on a daily basis while doing nothing to help the illegal immigration problem. Border towns on both sides of the border are suffering, while illegals find new ways around these measures almost before they're put up. The illegal immigration issue requires a much more thoughtful and comprehensive approach, throwing up a wall will cause more damage than it can possibly hope to alleviate.

    July 8, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. dz in Austin

    The people living along that fence and having it built on their property should have some say about it.
    We also need to realize, the cost of gasoline isn't the only reason the cost of food is going up. When crops rot in the field because there is no one to harvest them, it's not a fuel or flood problem.
    It will serve us right when we have to do the picking ourselves or go hungry. It might actually be good for us when we realize what hard work actually is. Personally, i like being spoiled and being able to go to the super market and get fresh vegetables at a reasonable price.

    July 8, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. larry buchas

    Are we Medieval? Perhaps a Great Wall like China including a moat with alligators?

    Is this America or East Germany?

    Our National Guard should be controlling the border, not Iraq.

    July 8, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Doris,Memphis,TN

    If Barack says build a fence,
    build a fence. I agree with
    whatever Obama says!

    President Obama!

    July 8, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. Ian

    We have military bases in over 130 countries. Couldn't we bring some of our troops home and have them defend our border?

    July 8, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Billy in NYC

    Take some of the 20 Billion a month from what we save on the Iraq war and invest it in some skills training and buisnesses in Mexico. We can make money on the interest and we help them at the same time. When they have an opportunity over there to do better for themselves they won't risk death to come over here.
    The Berlin Wall was one of the ugliest things that one culture ever did to another. Why repeat such a mistake?
    God Bless America!

    July 8, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. janet, ohio

    Who do we think we are? If the Native Americans had built a fence, we would have torn it down and killed them all and considered ourselves appointed by God to do so. We have no right to keep people from coming to this land. We do have a right to punish criminals - citizens or not - and if we would do that, we would not need a fence.

    July 8, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. David

    Obviously this fence should have already been constructed years ago.

    July 8, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. Nate

    There is a larger concern hear than just illegal immigration. Terrorists use that border to sneak into and out of the US.
    These are not scare tactics. Hezbolla and Al Qaida terrorists have actually been caught crossing the border. A cross border attack by Al Qaida against a US millitary base on the border has been recently foiled. This is a matter of national security.

    July 8, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Reality Check richmond virginia

    talk about a big waste of effort and money.............not to mention the symbolic nature of it........which is all it will end up being anyway.

    I like coconut pie, but I'm not gonna walk from Virginia to California to buy one for $2,000.00. I've got more productive ways to spend my time, money and energy.

    July 8, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. Saad from NJ

    However bad it maybe for humanity, environment, spending, wildlife etc, but the fact of the matter is that till we have a fence to stop the illegal border crossing, the dire consequences that it (illegal border crossing) brings to our country on the macro level, things like environment, wildlife etc are pointless.

    There are lot of pros to either side of the argument, just like there are lot of cons, but till we put a fence – or figure out another way to stop undocumented border crossing, this will remain a problem forever. Unfortunate but true, in my opinion.

    July 8, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. S. Boatman Warrensburg Mo.

    We Should Build A Fence To Keep Mccain Out Of The White House!

    July 8, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Dave

    The whole debate is not going to matter. Bush has entered this country in the Security and Prosperity Partnership with mexico and Canada and their desire is to end national soverignty and make the Americas like the European Union. Yep, no more USA. And it is being done with no congressional approval. They have people already meeting on how to transition our laws together.

    July 8, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  22. Peter

    To be honest, what will a fence do? they could climb over it

    July 8, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. Let's Unite

    Have any of the fence supporters ever heard of a ladder?

    July 8, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  24. Maggie Muggins From Selwyn

    The idea of the fence will be to keep Americans in not aliens out as all our jobs have gone south. If the fence was only to keep Mexicans out the Administration would send money to Mexico to build higher ladders.

    July 8, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. RC

    More trouble than it is worth. Replace it with a big sticky trap

    July 8, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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