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. John

    I don't care how much it costs, build the fence and keep out terroists and illeagls. Its been 7 years since 9/11 and I think Americans have sadly forgotten how awful we felt watching the towers fall. The fence may not be the only thing we need to do but it's a start. BUILD IT!

    July 8, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. mary hussein, colorado springs

    Building a fence is only spitting into the wind and you'll only get a wet face. The money would be better spent on increasing the size of the Border Patrol. Men do a better job of patrolling than a fence. Adding to the Border Patrol would cost less as well. This administration needs to use its head for more than keeping its ears apart. IF you can find someone with common sense, that's the answer....a fence is a ridiculous idea because it WON'T WORK, people will. Beef up the Border Patrol but don't tie their hands so they can't fulfill their duties. It's a disgrace that the government put two men in jail for doing their jobs. It sounds like those in Washington are a bunch of idiots. God help us!

    July 8, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Greg

    Illegals, ALL OF THEM, need to leave NOW!! They are a drain on our resources, public programs, etc...resources and public programs intended for U.S. Citizens. Paying out to those who contribute NOTHING to the budget is a recipe for disaster.

    Democrats, naturally, welcome illegals with open arms because they figure they might as well expand their voter base any way possible. Pathetic! The interests of the United States should come first, not the interests of the Socialist Party of America!!

    July 8, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Justice League

    Build the fence. Time to stop 3,000 a day from coming into our country. Just ask the Mexican government how they handle the Guatamalans and Nicaraguans streaming across their border to the South. Why shouldn't we do the same?

    July 8, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. Phantom of the Oprah

    I'm on the fence on that.

    July 8, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Phantom of the Oprah

    I Obama sitting on the fence- unwilling to commit- to play safe as usual?

    July 8, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Bruce

    mitchell hussein martin said: "tear down that wall! ronald reagan. the 'fence' is a terrible waste of money,and halts the flow of marijuana ,which ,apparently,a lot of americans want.legalize it,then people will support stupid fence."

    This is without a doubt the dumbest thing i've ever read on the political ticker. I think the mentally challenged should stay away from posting in here.

    July 8, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    I'm an avid Obama supporter,
    I don't know that we should have a fence, but I'm not against a fence.
    I am against illegal immigrants receiving any of my tax dollars – for healthcare, food, education, etc.
    Not because I'm against ANYBODY, but because the financial strain on Americans is just too much to bear. And, quite frankly, in speaking with some of my other Lation cohorts, they too want illegal immigration to stop.
    1) it puts them in a position of having to defend themselves in some places
    2) it puts them in a position of having to go against "cheaper" labor.
    Chepaer in that the companies that hire them don't pay them as much and then also don't give them anything in terms of benefits. So, it's hurting the native latino's more than others would imagine.
    We have to slow the tide of illegal immigration.

    July 8, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Jordan - San Marcos TX

    The fence is a wasteful and terrible idea. It is opposed by many in Texas, espeically those who's livelihood and property (in some cases owned by the same familes who recieved it from Spanish land grants) and will be an environmental disaster. Interior and East Coast politicans have no knowledge of the border and should not be making this decision. 15 foot fence=20 foot ladders. It's time to allow much more legal immigration and work for a comprehensive plan that address the reality that there is no way you can deport 12 million people. November cannot come soon enough. John Cornyn should be the first to go.

    July 8, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. professional campaigner

    Obama will take whatever side of this issue will gain him the most votes.

    That's the kind of guy he is.

    July 8, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. Swampy

    Didn't somebody try the fence idea in Berlin?

    July 8, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |

    Just do the unpopular thing:
    Notify Mexico 90 days ahead of time that we (US) are going to start military patrols of the border with military aircraft with live ordanaces with the authorization to use them if they spot ANYTHING invading the US territory...the night won't help (FLIR is a wonderful thing) I think that would go on for 30 days before teh traffic would cut down to almost nothing.
    Yes the world would cry out some citizens would have human rights issues but what about the US citizens rights??
    Immigration is a self inflicted wound and America will have to do something drastic to stop it! Maybe if they put as much effort as they are into Iraq and Afghanistan we wouldn't have a constant flow.
    Plug the leak then bail the water.......

    July 8, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Jordan - San Marcos TX

    *whose lives and property will be forever destroyed by the fence.

    July 8, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Matt

    Fence, lazers, pits, please secure the borders. How does that NOT make sense to some?

    July 8, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Can we just be American?

    I know a fence will not stop the illegal border crossing but it can be a first line of defense deterrent. I mean we can put the fence up with cameras and hire more border patrol analyst to watch the going on... this way they can report who is sneaking across. If are findings was not wasted on the war we could have come up with a bigger and better plan. The real issue is the Americans that employ the illegals. If we at home will stop this madness then there will be know reason for these individuals to cross the border. Tougher laws needs to be ENFORCED on Americans that hire illegal’s… from the home owner who picks up a couple of illegal’s to do jobs around the house to the corporations that hire these folks to work for miniscule pay for fortune 500 companies.

    July 8, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. sad for party unity

    Latinos are not well served by Obama... but old habits of voting for the democrat, are just so hard to break....

    Be true to your own self.

    This man is not for you... Obama is only out for himself. He wants to make history and will tell EVERYone what they want to hear just to expedite his way to his goal.

    July 8, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Anonymous in CO

    After reading some of the comments about needing the fence to keep terrorists out I had to respond again. The Saudi 9/11 terrorists were in our country legally when they flew the planes into the towers. The current world terrorists have money (backed by most of the Middle East countries) so I doubt they will be coming over via Mexico. More likely on a Visa given to them by our government. Or they could easily come over in a container ship or Canada's border. We are spending BILLIONS in Iraq so it's time to bring that money and our troops back home to protect our citizens. We have to approach this issue by going after the employers. If there weren't jobs easily available then people who want a better life won't be flooding into our country. Also change to law about automatic citizenship to anyone born on our soil.

    July 8, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Some of you obamabot idiots like Truth B Told obviously didn't read the article. OBAMA VOTED TO BUILD THE FENCE! You people are ranting about how stupid the idea is and then end by saying "Obama for Pres".

    July 8, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. mel

    For those that are here need to learn english. Want to be
    american citizen but want learn ours language. It should
    mandatory for them learn to become citizen of the U S A.
    Ours government can catch criminal and drug dealer but
    can't stop drug from coming into ours country because payoff.
    We need to control ours border because this is being taken
    over by illegal and bring violated crime here such gangs and

    July 8, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Susan

    If Obama picks Hillary for VP, he can get a head and win!

    Obama/Hillary 08

    July 8, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. KW from Tx

    Funny thing about the "threats" and need for a fence on Mexican border. Some simple facts:

    -All 911 terrorists came in from Canada.

    -No talk about fence on Canadian border.

    -Double standard?

    July 8, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Hussein, Hussein, Hussein,

    Obama must have e-mailed all of his cult followers to use "tags" on these blogs with the surname "Hussein".

    All the propaganda nuts out there are using that tag... to "desensitize" people against the ... what?.... stigma?... of Obama's middle name.

    I could care less all you fake Husseins... What matters is your FAKE nominee.

    He will lose this election based on who and what HE is... or IS NOT.

    July 8, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. MIT Student

    WHY ARE ALL THESE ARTICLES ON MCCAIN? CNN look at the headlines for politics... the past few days, I've only seen news on McCain.

    I thought CNN was supposed to be fair and balanced.

    July 8, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. John

    I'm all for the fence and a nice minefield to run along it's length. Keep us secure!

    July 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Mike - Texas

    That's funny, most of the polls that I have seen over the last month or so, show anywhere from 74% to 87% in favor of building the fence.

    To only have polled 1026 people isn't a very good poll. There is no way that you can get accurate information like that.

    One of the polls that I saw had polled over 30,000 people, with a sampling from almost every state based on population and 82% of that group that was polled wanted the fence built.

    It is time for our senators and congressmen to;

    ***** Vote for Americans and not Illegal aliens ****

    July 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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