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. C from Texas

    Wonder what people they polled for this. Was it the northern state or the states that have to deal with this problem?

    When illegal immigrations start effecting the jobs and crime rates up north, people will have a different tune.

    July 8, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. Ayesp Tlem

    I say build the fence Americans and get your country into more debt, Just make sure the secret under ground tunnels remain open.
    thank you

    July 8, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. jpm

    How well did Hadrian's wall work or the Great Wall in CHina??

    July 8, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. mitchell hussein martin

    we should wait until we deport all the republicans,especially ARB,and THEN build the fence.we need to remove the terrorists [republicans],first.i hear guantanamo is nice,this time of year.affordable housing,cheap food,great chiropractors [back-crackers],an electrician [always on duty],and all the water you can drink and more [as long as you are willing to be strapped to a board].

    July 8, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Bulldog

    Headline: Iraq insists on withdrawal timetable

    What do Bush and McCain have to say about that? They are speechless. It will be interesting to see what spin they create.

    July 8, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. My Conservative Democrat Side

    The borders must be secure ... you can not be allowed to come and go as you please. This means Canda & Mexico.

    People in the country must be here legally. Fine those who are not.

    Visitors in the country should be logged and tracked with biometrics ... digital photo & finger print & DNA sample on file somewhere. If we need to find you, we must have every possible ability to do so.

    Migrant workers should be allowed to come and go once per month ... not daily. That's too much cost in monitoring infrastructure and border staff.

    People who add something to the good of America, other that their physical labor, should be allowed a path to citizenship. However we don't need anyone that is going to later become a burden to our social services systems.

    July 8, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. ABB

    NO, "Kathryn Irby", it's your bigotry that is disgusting!
    I do agree with "R", if we still had our "National" Guard in place, proetecting our nation instead of having to spend two tor three tours in this "war", we might be able to do more positive things about securing our borders. Bottom line, a fence is a stupid idea.

    July 8, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Female Republican in CA

    To all of you that oppose doing something about our border control problem you must live in states that don't border Mexico. If you did, like I do, then you would understand that we need to do SOMETHING. A fence is a good start. I am tired of paying for illegal’s healthcare, food stamps, child care all while they get paid under the table and send money back to Mexico. Then they want to protest, saying that they are Americans but they do this by waving Mexican flags. Yes, nothing says I'm an AMERICAN like waving the Mexican flag and speaking Spanish. Good Job!
    I agree that the fence may not be the best solution, but at least it is something! I agree that people can find a way around it, but it's like a home security system. If someone wants to get in your house they will find a way, alarm system or not. But the point of the alarm system is to deter the burglar. That is what they are trying to accomplish with the fence.

    July 8, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. wade

    I say we build a tower every quarter a mile or so. Hire a bunch of sharp shooters and just drop each illegal that tries to cross. Do that a month or so, let them get the point and the problem will fix its self.

    July 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. courtney R

    you didnt climb these types of fences when u were a child.

    BUILD THE FENCE, NOW! its unthinkable that we dont have any real border, absolutely unthinkable.

    July 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. Maria in Crawford, Texas

    I live in Texas and I can tell you that there are many, many illegal people here. We don't need the fence, we need our government to do their job. If I broke the law I would pay for it. Illegal's are breaking the law and so are the people that employee them. If I stole someones identy I would go to jail. Why don't they!!!!? My grandparents were immigrants, but they did it the legal way. That's all we want is legal immigration and a government that enforces the law. If illegals can't get a job here, they won't stay and more will not come. How simple is that? I just solved the immigration problem!

    July 8, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Obama Supporter from FL

    Hey Nate – all the 9/11 terrorists came in through Canada... Do you want a wall up there too?

    "Nate July 8th, 2008 11:59 am ET

    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 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. KC

    – The WALL has been approved...
    – It is the appropriation of MONEY that is the hold-up

    . BUILD IT
    . KEEP OUT THE UNKNOWNS
    . HAVE THE KNOWNS GO THRU CONTROLLED CROSSING
    . THROW OUT THE ILLEGALS
    . PROTEST YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR HOME, YOUR PROPERTY

    July 8, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. dz in Austin

    I just love it that folks in Idaho, New Jersey, etc think they know what is best for the border between Texas and Mexico. Here's a thought, why don't you listen to those most affected?

    Let us take care of our borders, and you take care of your own problems!

    July 8, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. Voter

    A border fence is ridiculous. This is a nation of immigrants, and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for failing our most valuable heritage. Historically, we have welcomed immigrants and provided for them until they could get a foothold in the New World.

    Settlement houses, tenements in big cities, churches adopting families, family members bringing their relatives. This is the promise of America. Yes, they speak different languages, so did your relatives. They learned English with help. The elderly often never did, and they were watched over by their children and grandchildren.

    I am so ashamed of the current anti-immigrant hatred. We all came here from somewhere. Our brightest minds, our best ideas, our most beautiful art, our finest literature, our highest skilled crafts- they all came when our families came. They are who we are.

    How hypocritical to deny new immigrants – to treat them as "illegal," to deny them health care and education. Good thing our forefathers didn't do that to our grandparents!

    Compared to our own waste and our outrageous expenditures on war and killing, the cost to Americans to support immigrants trying to make it here is peanuts.

    I only hope Americans today can rise to the promise of America and stop the incredible selfishness and hate before we lose what is best about us all.

    July 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Janet Jacme

    I have a better idea:

    instead of a fence, how bout we block the border with Lou Dobbs' inflated ego, and then fill in the gaps with his gigantic dentures.

    Plus, We could put a wind turbine in front of his mouth, and power the entire eastern seaboard for the next 1000 years

    July 8, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. NO OBAMA NO

    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 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. aware

    Read "Mexifornia" if you want an inside look with real solutions! 🙁

    July 8, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. NORA, FLORIDA

    A fence with Sniper Security. I am sick and tired of folks complaining about illegals in this country taking jobs and not paying taxes but then they are looking at the environment. I value my livelyhood over what little damage will happen by putting up that fence.

    July 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. RSR

    Obama and the 'Dum'ocrats in congress will never do anything to stop ILLEAGAL immagration, because it helps build their voting base. Obama will say & do anything if he thinks it will help him become 'KING of the UNITED STATE of ISLAM'....the 58th Islamic state.

    July 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. Larry

    Hey CNN, isn't it about time for ANOTHER pro-Obama propoganda piece?

    Also, why such a concerted effort to constantly keep Obama's each move in the news cycle (his plane landed, he plans to buy a dog, etc.)?

    This is ridiculous...

    July 8, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Kris from AZ

    Fence will not help keep illegals out of the country. What would help is Bipartisinship with the Mexican government to help those who need jobs in mexico.. It takes talking and brain storming to come up with a great answer. They are our neighbors and allies.

    July 8, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. G from the D, (Detroit that is)

    Please help me understand why we are only building a fence between the US in Mexico . . . I am not Latino but it sounds to me since 66% Of Republicans favor a fence that they want to keep the Mexicans on their side of the fence. I wonder what they think about the Canadians . . . Naahhh Not a concern . . . Just the Mexicans. If you are Latino and have any love for your fellow Latino John McCain may not be your guy.

    July 8, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. thekingofbluecollar

    you all forget, we are trying to build a fence to keep out CRIMINALS. Anyone croosing a US border without proper documentation, who cares if you're a democrat or republican. It all comes down to my piece of mind, I pay my taxes and do everything legal, build a fence and tell the lettuce pickers to go to Columbia or some other third world country.

    July 8, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. NORA, FLORIDA

    TO: F.Taylor,

    I see alot wrong with how our government SCREWED the two guards that wounded the drug smugglers that were coming over here because if you try to commit anytype of physical violence on police officers in the USA, you get shot but if you are protecting our borders and commit violence towards the boarder patrol, the boarder patrol goes to prison.

    This country in that nature is SICK. Bloggers can call me Anti-American but oh well. That is the truth.

    July 8, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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