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. spoton

    i am amazed no distrubed at how ignorant some of your comments are. the berlin wall kept people locked in berlin not the berliners locked out.it kept people from escaping communist controlled eastern europe very well.so analogy a fence with mexico would work to keep our citizens from escaping to mexico. so it should also keep their citizens from escaping to take our jobs and destroy our civilization.mexico itself is locked in war with drug cartels corrupting all aspects of lie/civilization.border control is not possible by mexican govt even if they cared to stop the free movement of their citizens. roman wall in britian worked for 400 years until they stopped defending it due to roman govt corruption and the roman peoples not believing their society was worth preserving

    July 8, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. Robert in Seattle

    Terrorist can still come in through Canada, the Air, and Sea. A fence is not a deterrent. A small ladder and some effort defeat a fence! why not use landmines!

    July 8, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. HollyK

    Too bad the Native Americans didn't manage to build a big old fence all along the Atlantic coastline before the Mayflower arrived.

    July 8, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. Shane

    Take the troops out of Iraq and put them on the border. That should solve the Iraq problem and the illegal immigration issue and further protect us from terrorist crossing the border.

    July 8, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Common Sense

    As I have mentioned in a prior article (http://uscommonsense.net/blog/2008/04/16/bringing-down-the-wall-aka-imigration-101/), a fence from coast to coast simply will not work and would be a colossal waste of funds. Fences in strategic locations will help divert illegals and drug-runners into specific "gaps" that are easier to control on foot and from aerial surveillance. The money saved from not building a coast-to-coast fence can be used to pay for more Border Patrol agents and the necessary equipment they need to do their job. The investment in people will result in increased tax revenue (and in Business 101, a return on investment is a good thing).

    July 8, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Wouldn't it be cheaper just to invade, conquer, and annex Mexico?

    July 8, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. shelley messersmith

    Weneed the fence.
    At some point in time, Americians need to take care of ourselves for awhile and the rest will have to learn to take care of themselves for awhile. We need to step back and regroup so we can once again become what we, as a whole country need to be. We are always one to step up and help others and we have forgotten to help our own. We need to help our own to become strong again.

    July 8, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. ben

    A BORDER FENCE WILL NOT WORK! DONT YOU REALISE MORE THAN HALF OF THE UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS COME INTO THE COUNTRY WITH TOURIST PERMITS AND JUST DO NOT GO BACK TO MEXICO
    IN HERMOSILLO SONORA OUR AMERICAN COUNCIL CANT HAND OUT PERMITS FAST ENOUGH! I KNOW THIS FOR A FACT!!!
    I WENT TO THEM FOR ADVICE, AND THERE WAS A LONG LONG LINE WAITING FOR PERMITS.A MEXICAN GUARD TOLD ME I HAD TO STAND IN LINE LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE!!!! I AM NOT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE! i am an american citizen wanting to speak to my counsel!SO IF YOU THINK IT WISE TO BUILD A USELESS FENCE MY ADVICE TO YOU IS TO BUILD A MORE EFFICIENT AMERICAN COUNCEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

    July 8, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Truth B Told

    I have heard that new levees in New Orleans is 1 Billion, and Bush spends three billion on a fence that cant keep a billy goat out!!! This country was built by immigrants why try to keep people out now! Makes no sense fools!

    REMEMBER FOLKS COMMON SENSE GOES A LONG WAY, BUT EXPERIENCE IS JUST MORE OF THE SAME OLE POLITICS! SOME OF US AVERAGE WAGE EARNERS CAN'T AFFORD!

    COMMON SENSE WE CAN BELIEVE IN

    OBAMA 08

    July 8, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. David

    It's funny how people that've never lived in Calfornia or any of the Southwestern states think they know the situation. The media makes it seem that Mexicans are stealing the food from people's mouths. THEY'RE WORKING FOR IT. The fence is a ridiculous idea.

    July 8, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. kelly WI

    Dimocrats don't like anything good for the country. Case closed.

    Congress now has 9% approval rating. Just can't imagine why. lol

    July 8, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. Robert in Seattle

    If I scare you enough will you pay me to build a useless fence around your house? Neighborhood? Town? State? Just so you can "feel" safe? A fence will not protect you from blackwater mercs. A fence will not protect you from your paranoid delusions. A fence will make some inside contractor a lot of money. Why not fix the levies and bridges first?

    July 8, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. kim miles

    who cares. send some cheep gas. with the war gas should be about 00.5.99

    July 8, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. ps

    "TEAR DOWN THAT WALL" RONALD REAGAN

    July 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Rob

    The only way to protect this country is with a fence..Like it or not Its the only way.Lets face it people from other countires are coming in here through the Mexican border too. I'm a Democrat , but Democrats don't want to make a decision on anything–get with it people. We could replace all of you with the illegals you refuse to do anything about .The crminals should go back fast .And if others want to come here–great pay them American wages–this way its win -win for everyone ,except big business . big business has had enough of a free ride

    July 8, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. Johnny Mac is bad cheese gone worse

    Regardless of which candidate you support, I think this idea and half my country is stupid!

    July 8, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. saga4obama

    ok i live in LA, there is a huge illegal population here, i understand that they come here to work and make money to send home "back to Mexico", but i dont get how someone breaking the law is rewarded. i kind of feel like calling people who are living in the US "undocumented citizens" is like calling a crack dealer an "unregistered pharmacist"...and with the people who are trying to fight for the rights of illegals, i find them sort of racist, i mean are they fighting for all, or just the Latinos? i work in a restaurant and one night i was serving people from the Mexican delegate, they were talking about how they have some 35 million illegals living in the US, how the money these people send back to Mexico has helped their economy grow, how powerful they have become in this country ect. my thing is we need a reform that works for ALL people who want to become apart of our Nation. we need to find away to tax the money they are sending back to Mexico so they are contributing to the growth of this country as well. i mean who is paying for the health care , education, transportation, books, shelter ect...of these people? tax paying Americans...This man John McCain chose to be his "Hispanic Outreach Director." Juan Hernandez
    .his new book. The "New American Pioneers" proclaimed in his book are the illegal alien invaders he urges to become settlers in the USA. Hernandez believes all Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the USA should become dual citizens and consider themselves Mexicans first, "to the 8th generation." He believes there should be no border at all between Mexico and the USA, ever.

    July 8, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Read the comment both McCain and Obama both voted to authorize the building of the fence in the Senate last year. Sound like they are on the same side here.

    July 8, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Kathryn Irby - Metairie, LA

    Just because of all the Spics barging their ways in this country! How disgusting!

    July 8, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. R

    Let's all think about this seriously for a minute: If we weren't spending 12 billion dollars a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, a several hundred million of that could be used to enlist more recruits for border patrol, and have our coast guard, and national guard, doing what they're supposed to be doing; protecting our country. Next question is; who are they going to hire to build that fence? I bet half of the people they hire will be some kind of illegal immigrants. Like my buddy good ol' Jesse Ventura said "Be careful what you wish for, because the fence that was supposed to keep people out, might be used to keep you IN." Think about it, the media doesn't provide enough right information to the public, so people will believe anything, its a dumb idea. Period. Bandaid on a bullet wound.

    July 8, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    i find this VERY hard to believe. a FENCE is such an @ssinine solution, i dont believe that many americans think a fence is the best use of our money! what kind of fence ever kept anyone out of anywhere?!?!? geez, didnt you people even have a childhood???

    July 8, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Jubie

    To "God Bless America" your history is wrong. It was GWB and his administration who SAID Bin Laden was behind the WTC 9/11 attacks, but it wasn't. Then somehow we jumped from Bin Laden to Al Qaeda to Iraq. This is the main reason for us invading Iraq: DISINFORMATION. Oh, and we wanted revenge, too, on anyone whom Bush pointed a finger at. We were duped.

    The border fence is an ignorant idea, designed to appease stupid people who think it will work. It won't. We should be hitting the employers who recruit illegals (with the footnote that they're doing the work Americans WON'T do, which is a lie, we simply won't do those jobs for sub-standard wages) with fines. Our government, our elected officials are being paid to deny a problem exists by the very people who gain from illegal aliens (they're not immigrants, they're ALIENS) – EMPLOYERS. The only reason it has become such a huge problem is because our elected officials are being paid to look the other way.

    Government corruption. We are a nation of laws, and we have laws on the books to address the issues of illegals coming over our borders. Our elected officials are simply choosing to ignore the will of the American People. Viva La Raza??? VIVA LA CONSTITUTION DE LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS.

    July 8, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    kathryn irby, YOU and your mouth are DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 8, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. J, Denver CO

    I'm concerned about the environment too, however I'm more concerned about the number of undocumented people in this country that are draining our health care and educational system. I'm also very concerned about the flood of drugs and violence that is coming into this country from Mexico.

    I'm not sure if a fence is the answer, but we do have to come up with some kind of solution to stem the flow of undocumented Mexicans crossing our borders.

    July 8, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. Patrick Henry, Ft. Myers

    Judging from this poll. It appears in this sampling of 1,026 people 55% of them are misinformed and certainly do not understand the concept of what a fence is for.

    Fences are built to keep in dogs, cattle, horses, and other domestic beasts. Also good to corral children and to protect the general public from eye sore property coniditions.

    Fences have never worked to keep out: criminals, rabbits, varmints–they always find a way in.

    July 8, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13