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. Dave

    East Berlin???!!!!! who the heck was beatin' down their wall to get in??

    July 8, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. mitchell hussein martin

    Obama will not be able to fix this problem because he has no ideas of his own.

    July 8, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Not So Delusional

    Instead of a fence, provide that money to the border patrol and immigration service so they can perform the job we ask of them.

    Secondly, you HAVE to go after the employers. Caught once, you're fined 5k for every illegal worker. Caught twice, your business license is suspended for 1 month for every illegal worker. Caught thrice (that's a word, really), your business license is revoked and you're going to prison for maximum 1 year per illegal worker.

    Unfortunately this means I'd have to hire some neighborhood kid to cut my yard, but that's a small price to pay.

    July 8, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Steve (Independent)

    Yeah, but up a fence along the Mexican border, then put one on the Canadian border. Next would be fences around the Continental U.S. along with fences around the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, and U.S. possessions, you know, make the U.S. like one big prison yard.

    How do fences make any sense?

    There is a need for concern for illegal aliens, I grant, but I think fencing is too extreme and simply reminds me of things like the Berlin Wall; a fence is a double-edged sword, IMHO...

    July 8, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. austin

    The US is just the band aid for the issuie. The people leaving their homes for this country is the blood gushing from failed and horrible government/conditions in their countries. The Mexican gov. needs to take responsibility and clean itself up. The wall is stupid, spend the 3 billion on new equipment and personel to monitor the boarders in stead of something that will be an eye sore IF its no longer needed.

    July 8, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Lucy

    Mexico will do nothing to solve the immigration issue. Never has, never will. Militarize the border before we lose our country altogether. Twelve million illegals in this country is more than enough. Better yet, let's adopt Mexico's absurd, neurotic rules governing the rights of foreigners in Mexico and lest we forget who is responsible for 98% of the illegal problem in the USA, let's apply these rules solely to Mexicans. That should bring the cries of "foul" from the hispanic activists and far left liberals. And I am a Democrat.

    July 8, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Sue in MI

    Good thinking, Anonymous in CO! I agree with every word. And we need to vote out every incumbent, and begin to get a NEW Congress in place. Every incumbent for the next 6 years, and we can truly change America!
    As to a FENCE keeping out terrorists-HAH! The true terrorists are in Washington, shredding our rights along with the Constitution. The Republican scare machine will be in overdrive soon, until we realize that THEY are the real threat to our way of life, not some person in Iran.
    And Rick, you need to look past your Republican stubbornness. We are creating more terrorists every day we stay in Iraq. Drilling more oil will not solve the problems of over-consumption and wanton disregard for others,
    and while war is big business for Bush and cronies, for the rest of us it is senseless, wasteful, and morally wrong. You probably hope we bomb the evil Iran soon, too. God save us from you and Bush.

    July 8, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. Dennis, MT

    I am a Democrat but have conservative views about immigration. I wanted all illegals to leave the country, immediately. After listening to Barack Obama, I realized that you don't have to step on somebody else's dream in order to have your own. So now I just want all criminals to leave, and I want the illegals who have NOT committed a crime to pay a fine.

    If McCain wins however, I'm back to square one.

    Obama 08

    July 8, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Reality Check richmond virginia

    I think the fence is a great idea. we can hand it over to Halliburton to build and someday they can hopefully finish it and only charge the American taxpayers $300 billion to do it. Plus, I'm sick of all these illegal aleins from Canada stealing our jobs and their Grizzly bears terrorizing our country side.

    July 8, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. God Bless America

    If my American History is correct it was Bin Laden (Middle East) who is responsible for the 911 attack. We are at War with Afghanistan (Middle East) , in a War with Iraq (Middle East) and looking to start a
    War with Iraq!!!!!! Again Middle East!!!!!!! How is ISOLATION from our continent allies protecting America? How is putting up a fence against people who love this country and give up everything to reach it's soil is WISE DEFENSE against MEN , WOMEN AND CHILDEN WHO ARE TAUGHT TO SING, DANCE AND CHANT " DEATH TO AMERICANS"?

    July 8, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. F. Taylor

    What a country, you send hundreds of thousands of soldiers to Iraq to patrol their borders and can't muster a corporal guard to patrol your own borders. Then when your guards do catch a drug smuggler and wound him you sentence them to 10-12 years each and give the smuggler immunity.

    Does anyone see anything wrong with these two scenarios.

    July 8, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. JAMES DUCKWORTH

    NOW WE HAVE OUR OWN BERLIN WALL

    July 8, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  13. Veteran in Kansas

    A wall stood in Berlin for close to 50 years before it was torn down, the iron curtain fell, and today as a memorial to the stupidity of man we the United States of America are building a wall that is suppose to stop who on our border with Mexico.

    We have laws, we have border guards, we have two border guards sitting in federal prison for doing their job. What a nation in the 2000's.

    July 8, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. mayahh

    I see no problem with building a fence, for the protection of the American people, safety issues here, all Americans need to feel safe, this is our backyard.

    July 8, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Chuck

    Majority Rules. Build the fence. Mine the border while you are at it.

    July 8, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. JB

    Hey Richard, and all of you other idiots who think it would be easy to climb the wall.

    First, ever heard of barb wire?

    Second, they would combine the fence with electronic monitoring.

    Finally, your argument is that walls don't work. I guess those Chinese must have been republicans. The Berlin wall, dumb. Walls at prisons, stupid.

    The argument is flawed and flat out wrong!!!

    July 8, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. Dave

    Building a border fence would be an absolute disgrace for a nation that considers itself to be free. People and goods come before any government or any arbitrary line in the sand. Let's modernize our immigration system and create an open, transparent guest worker program to quickly and efficiently vet the hard working souls who simply want a better life. Simultaneously we need to pressure the developing countries to our south to modernize their economies and allow for greater property rights and foreign investment.

    July 8, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. David, Silver Spring, MD

    The border fence is repulsive. It's like we're Henry VIII gorging himself inside his castle while the moat protects him from the starving peasants outside. It's like those gated golf communities we despise so much as we drive by them.

    How can anyone complain that Barack Obama is "elitist" and yet favor building a fence to make sure those dirty, poor, badly dressed, non English speaking, Mexicans can't get into our precious country.

    July 8, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. John Janks

    I don't want a fence it will solve nothing, what I want is mandatory prison terms for those that employ illegal immigrants. In order to solve the problem you have to attack the root cause. Do this one thing and the problem will entirely correct itself.

    July 8, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. Mark

    Why build a fence between our country and Mexico?

    Why put fences up in on our properties?

    July 8, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. Robert in Seattle

    Terrorists coming across the border? Why would they take the difficult route? They can fly in on a government issued student visa! BTW your odds of being hurt by a terrorist are less than being hurt crossing the street. Lets have a war on red light runners! This is a canard! a distraction! Get a grip you silly paranoid peoples!

    July 8, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. fighting the smears

    If politicians were that concerned about illegal immigrants, they would go after the businesses that hired them but the truth is that politicians won't because they would lose campaign/lobbyist dollars from these businesses. So they scapegoat the illegals who have no voice in our government and make them the easy target. It's very logical, stop the source of the money and illegals would stop coming over. Keep it open and people will find a way to get here. Honestly, anyone who thinks that a fence is the answer, needs to ask themselves why do these people come here and attack the source of the problem.

    July 8, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Truth B Told

    Stop wondering why everything is soooo overpriced these days! The government says no to illegal crossers in sending money to their family across the border! Oh well life goes on, and so does the illegals over, under, and thru the fence! What a waist of time and money!

    July 8, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. Gramma Faye /Idaho

    I guess some people have NOT checked on the environmental damage that has been done over the yrs and all the garbage left out there to be cleaned up,
    Then It makes me wonder about people that don't want our country secured. Do they like the drugs that come through. And do we know how many people that want to do harm to this country have come across?
    The fence may not be a cure all but at st it is a starting point. I just don't understand people that think we should blindly open our country with no documentation. That is plain crazy to want to give our country away. To many people have a short memory.

    July 8, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Michael Lorton, Virginia

    If we believe that 3 billion dollars towards constructing a fence along the United States-Mexican border is going to resolve the illegal immigration problem, then we are truly a lost society. Why don't we enforce current existing laws are enact new laws.....but then again, its the dog chasing it tail.......too late.....this nation is changing....and I hope for the better.

    July 8, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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