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. Grant

    I would love to see a poll of the people in TX, NM, AZ and CA about their opinions of fence. They are the one's who are really effected by illegal immigration. You tell me how someone in Boston can relate to the problems of a Dallas County resident who pays taxes for Parkland Hospital?

    July 8, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. rve

    Once again this government is spending 2.5 billion dollars on fixing a sympton not the problem. Stop sending our business to India and China and start sending that money to Mexico for jobs. Then, there will be no need for a fence....

    By the way, no fence along the Canadian border, where the terrorists crossed!

    July 8, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Conan

    Build a fence, dig a trench, just do SOMETHING!!!!!!

    July 8, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Carl Justus

    Why would anybody NOT want to stop just anybody from illegally crossing the borders with Mexico or Canada into the USA? A terrorist could just walk across the border with a suitcase of nuclear material and drop in off in Houston, Texas or New York city or Boston or any big city and cause major damage to people and infrastructure.
    Anyone who advocates not to stop illegal immigration is either nuts or does not have the safety of this country in mind.

    July 8, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Mainely Carol

    3 Billion for a Fence, but you can bet your bottom dollar GOP and ilk will whine about not enough funds for Social Security.
    FOX and GOP friends have sold many Americans to be afraid of those people that have been working in the fields for us every day. They do the labor Americans refuse to do. The local Farms and Businesses are now haveing a hard time finding workers due to the vigilante groups out there.

    The only good and creative idea Bush had was to work on a Worker Permit system with Mexico. Other Nations manage to do it why can't we? Stupid rancour between the Dems and Republicans.

    Actually I wish Obama didn't agree with this stupid idea.

    July 8, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. Griff

    Who care's it wont help him. This guy will never be a leader of anything. But the Black King... There ios no place for a guy in Real Government: Who wasn't born i n the USA, who really knows where this guy was born. Call this guy anything the Blacks think is Bias, and your a Racist..... The Blacks have this idea this is their right, even though he is a Foreigner. That never served his eleged country in any way.... He will be gone after November, and good ridance...../.

    July 8, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Matthew

    People say fences won't stop illegal border law violators.

    Next time you drive by a prison, take a look at what's around it.

    Seems to work fine.

    July 8, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    July 8, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  9. Matt in Dallas

    I agree 100% with Bridgette. We should enforce a policy that penalizes those who hire illegal immigrants in there pocket books. Money talks and if we issue hefty fines to those employers than the problem would be drastically reduced as well as create new jobs for american citizens.

    July 8, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. William Schockley

    McCain ...

    What are you going to do about LAW BREAKING LATINOS that violate the soveriegnty of the Unites States of America?

    July 8, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Roman

    Why do we keep repeating mistakes, ever hear of the wall between east and west berlin?

    Let these people come into the US and work if they would like, just make sure they are signed in legally (work visas) and make sure employers (who are the real problem here) follow all the rules just like every other employer is the US (workmens comp, payroll taxes, proper accounting etc.....)

    July 8, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Ricky

    Put 45,000 troops from Iraq on AMERICA's border most troops over there are not fighting anything...But I guess that would be common since...Oh wait theres no such thing in politics...and putting up a fence would just slow people down and mess up animals needing to migrate...oh wait thats not a smart idea...when did common since becaome such a starange concept?

    July 8, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. A buckeye

    First, build the fence. Second, jail the ceo's hiring and thriving off cheap labor, Third support NAFTA and export John McCain's job to Guatemala, Fourth, reduce our minimum wage to $1.20/hour and then we can all slip through the hole in the fence to go to Mexico and make some real money, say $1.21/hr.

    July 8, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Ladders anyone?

    Well I am all for doing something to protect our borders...

    Democracy is very vulnerable to threats...

    The world is no longer what is was and complacency will not bring us peace and safety.

    But I don't think a fence is the solution. Don't terrorists have ladders?

    July 8, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. AJolly

    The idea of a "fence" is a distraction from the more important issue, "how do we deal with illegal immigrants?" Perhaps, we should build a fence around corporations that higher illegal immigrants. The point is that we have laws that are sufficient enough to handle the problem, however, thus far we have chosen not to enforce them. A "fence" is an expensive non-solution. Enforce the law and solve the problem!

    July 8, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. john williams san diego, ca.

    a fence is cheap considering the Billions of dollars that illegals are costing our schools, hospitals (free health care) and social programs in san diego and california..BUILD THE FENCE and keep the National Guard stationed at it.

    July 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. Enomisa

    Well I am all for doing something to protect our borders...

    Democracy, by its very nature of openness has become very vulnerable to threats...

    The world is no longer what is was and complacency will not bring us peace and safety.

    But I don't think a fence is the solution. Don't terrorists have ladders?

    July 8, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. Enomisa

    Some are on one side of the fence... some on the other... I bet Obama is playing it safe by sitting on the fence... until the polls indicate to him his position.

    July 8, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Ellyn

    I thought we already had a fence. It's called a desert.

    This is nothing more than a quick-fix, expensive plan. Building a fence isn't going to fix our broken immigration system. Why don't we put the 3 billion toward getting to the root of the problem and coming up with some real solutions?

    Illegal immigration is definitely a problem, but could we please stop referring to illegal immigrants as criminals? I understand they are breaking the law, but laws aren't always just. And since when did trying to make a better life for your family become a crime?

    July 8, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. jc

    I see nothing wrong with a fence. It won't completely stop illegals from getting in, but it will likely halt it to a trickle. Noone says they can't build a fence AND penalize employers who hire illegal aliens. As for the Berlin Wall comparison – apples and oranges.....The Berlin Wall was built to keep people inside, a border fence with Mexico is to keep people outside. I don't understand why anyone would be against a more secure border.

    July 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. Jackson

    I agree with Bridgette. Hit the employers hard. They are the ones providing so much motivation for people coming to work illegally.

    July 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. gurv07728

    The fence is a great start, but not the whole solution!! Why aren't there Army posts all along the borders??? Since we have to pay soldiers to stay on base anyway why not put them to good use instead of just playing war??? I can't think of many countries that actually have border walls of some form that don't also have the military providing security along said walls. In fact if you actually look at thise walls the military forts are built right into them. I also think people would have a lot more difficulty crossing the border with a humvee crusing by every 5 or 10 minutes.

    I also think that companies who hire these people should pay stiff fines and have a 3 strike type rule. Get caught hiring illegals 3 times and you forfiet the company and if you are in management you are no longer allowed to perform in a management position any longer, funny we can do it to dealer but not the CEO. If you really take a hard look at who is doing more harm to the country it is without a doubt the one destroying American jobs which in turn destroys families!!!

    I am begining to believe that the govt. is trying to create a North American Union, why else would they be so willing to let our country be invaded by those who stole thier way into the country and continue to steal american dreams daily, unless they were trying to bring wages down.

    July 8, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Amerika the beautiful

    The threat to democracy is what we witnessed as the travesty of the democratic primary.

    The least qualified, least experienced, least accomplished and least worthy of leading... was installed by threats and demands.

    Our border pales in comparison as a concern for most democrats who believe in our system of fair elections.

    PUMAs can jump over the fence.

    July 8, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. Stephanie

    Katiec and others....stop with the comparisons to the Berlin wall. That was built to keep people IN against their will. Whatever side you are on, try you best to at least leave intelligent comments.

    July 8, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. SC voter

    I feel the 700 mile long fence is RIDICULOUS. You know darn well that every day – in multiple locations along it's length – someone will punch a hole in it allowing groups to slip through!

    Such a fence would be a joke, and in CONSTANT need of patchwork REPAIRS! There will be no end in sight.

    The only way something like that would 'work" would be if it were
    15 -20 feet tall and ELECTRIFIED ~~ not to mention strictly monitored 24/7 along EVERY INCH of it. Satellite tech may help out there, but that would require constant manpower and be a serious drain on our resources.

    There are RULES already on the books. STRICTLY ENFORCE THEM! AND THROW OFFENDERS IN PRISON FOR LIFE – even on their first attempt. No excuses!

    July 8, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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