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 McNeill

    Personally, I believe it would be more effective to withdraw our troops from all over the world and place them along our borders. Build a few bases and establish daily patrols. Maybe build fences around commonly traveled routes/choke points.

    However, I'm tired of people comparing the fence to the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was a barricade built by a foreign power to keep a country divided.

    America and Mexico are not one country, despite what some reconquista nutjobs think. Both nations have rights as SOVEREIGN nations to defend their borders. I believe America's borders must be secured and I applaud Mexico for taking their national sovereignty seriously by defending their southern border. Too bad Mexico can't respect our sovereignty.

    July 8, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. john williams san diego, ca.

    P.S. i forgot the prison costs for rapes and murders of our citizens. And i might as well ad the drunk driving accidents which of course they have no insurance.

    July 8, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Lake Michigan

    Our economy is in a slump, and Mexican illegals are exhanging their dollars for pesos and sending them Western Union back to Mexico, notice a connection here? Build the Fence!

    July 8, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  4. Stephanie

    Proud to be a democrat –
    Thank you for proving the point. The people who immigrated here in the past (all of my ancestors for example) were HAPPY to be here, and bothered to learn the language and integrate into this country. If that were the situation now – no problem.

    July 8, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Onlooker, WA

    Can you imagine the size, quality and technologically advanced fence that could be built with the money that is being wasted on war?

    July 8, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. DJ, LA, CA

    Yes good idea to end the Iraq War that was based on lies...and redeploy all National Guard along with Reserves to guard the border instead. Plus prevent employers from hiring the illegals, wage heavy fines and deport all with criminal records.

    July 8, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. R. Grayson

    Forget the fence. Increase the legal immigration quota to a couple of million a year from Mexico. Then we can take names and check for criminal records and all the good folks who want to come and work here can come on in.

    We need the labor. They need the jobs. Why be confrontational?

    Maybe we could spend the money on ESL schools because once they learn English they won't be so scarey.

    R. Grayson

    July 8, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |

    You no Fence idiots need to get a life. The border fence will have about the same impact as a cattle fence. As far as fines to people that hire them? So now you want a bunch of illegal immigrants starving in America? And if you need a reason why they illegals come to America. Go to Mexico and have a look around. That Gov't is so corrupt it is ridiculous. You would come here too. In my opinion we invaded the wrong country. Mexico does more harm to the US in one day than Iraq ever did. We need the fence and we need a guest worker program. Illegals need to go home and sign up for the program. If they want to become citizens then they need to follow the rules. In the meantime we cannot have 22 million Illegals starving to death in Mexico. our own back yard...

    July 8, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. NELSON Colorado Springs, Co

    I don't know who through of this Border Fence to keep people out was DUMB and a wasted of money but it supply a few contract jobs. GO OBAMA

    July 8, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. Franky

    I'm not gonna lie guys but I do believe we need one. I'm sorry to say this but I do believe we need to force it in there. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that is the right thing to do but I do believe is the only way we're gonna fix the problem. Let's just say it'll work best for both parties, at least I believe so...

    July 8, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. pam williams

    I'm for the fence.

    July 8, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. Marie in California

    Here in San Diego illegal immigration is a major problem and local folks, in general, aren't very happy about the situation at all. Some people, like the MSM, want to call them "undocumented workers" but I say.....what part of "illegal" don't they understand?

    If the only way to keep illegal immigrants from sneaking into our country is to build a fence....Have at it! I wouldn't mind having the National Guard chip in to patrol the border while we're at it.. Also, unmanned drones patroling the border might be a good thing too...that way the Border Patrol would know where to go to catch the illegals just as they're coming in.

    And also, very importantly, really go after the people who hire illegals....and do that bigtime....like hit them with hefty fines and even jail time. I'll bet that would make them clean up their acts in a hurry. Bottom line here.....the illegals would quit coming to our country if the money supply (and public benefits!) dried up.

    July 8, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. mike

    Obama supports a fence – thats one thing i'll agree with him on. The fence has proved successful where built. How many people are aware that the mexican army has provided cover to drug dealers into our country? Also, we need to make it as difficult as we can to keep out future illegals. as it is, in 20 years they will dominate culturally and politcally. Think what it will mean to your kids to be an 'american'.

    July 8, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  14. jimmy velman

    America is still the beacon of Liberty and opportunity which draws
    people from around the globe to its shores. Despite our problems
    our country is still the greatest in the world.
    However, WE NEED TO SECURE OUR BORDERS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY. The Border Fence is just one of the many border
    protection projects that our country needs and should be built ASAP.
    as more and more illegal aliens cross our borders. WE have a great many illegal aliens crowding our prisons because of failure to secure our borders and failure to identify, catch and deport criminals
    felons and other undesirables among these illegals.
    The Bush Administraion would have to its credit , border security
    and anti-terrorist initiatives if it would go full speed on these projects.

    July 8, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Chris in Oregon

    Thank you Congress for wasting my money on a non solution. I am proud that we, too, like the east Germans, now have a fence to call our very own.

    July 8, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |


    July 8, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Phil in KC

    First of all, it smacks of the Berlin Wall. Remember that one? "Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall."?
    Second, what good will a 700 mile fence do? After looking at pictures, it looks scalable. Even if it's not, it may deter those halfway between either end, but if you're close to one end or the other, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to say, "Gee, I think I'll go down there, where there is no fence."
    If you really want to deter illegal immigration, you need to take away the incentive. Make it illegal to employ illegal immigrants and then back it up with hefty fines and frequent spot checks. Have the INS show up at a few job sites asking for IDs and/or proof of citizenship. If the workers can't provide that proof, they go back home and the employer gets fined a quarter of a million apiece. Provide no welfare except emergency medical treatment (even illegal aliens deserve that much). That would stop it.

    July 8, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. John McNeill

    And for all those who say that illegals just want to be Americans, think about it. We're in a recession and as soon as hard times hit illegals start leaving. What's that about them desiring to live the American dream? Apparently it's only good to be an American when we have a housing bubble.

    July 8, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Orange

    I really am not sure how you would go about finding a solution on this issue. A compromise that I could think of is I know that many American residents and citizens are married to illegal aliens, maybe this law could be adjusted to make it easier for these families to be together legally. Then build the fence. Maybe that could help reach some sort of concensus ??

    July 8, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. KLO

    Republicans call on us to not be "PROTECTIONIST" but support this fence.

    News Flash: There is already some fence in CA an AZ, and the that's GOOD!!!

    News Flash: Kids need jobs. Landscaping is a job. Construction is a good job. Jobs = consumers. Jobs = Strong Dollar. Jobs = Good Economy. If Fence = Jobs then I Heart Fence.

    College educated Democrat who sells Real Estate and doesn't work in my educated field because of Free Trade.

    July 8, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Natasha

    This wall is not to keep Mexicans out, it's to keep Americans in: entrapped and enslaved.

    July 8, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. saga4obama

    Voter July 8th, 2008 12:55 pm ET

    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.
    it is not the immigrants the boarder states are talking about it is the illegal immigrants.
    and to the DA no obama comment:
    john mccain:* "He has promoted illegal amnesty for millions of illegal aliens"-Charlotte Iserbyt former Senior Adviser for the Reagan Administration

    July 8, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. Peter

    To rve:"By the way, no fence along the Canadian border, where the terrorists crossed!"

    This is a very misleading and insulting statement. It is virtually wrong unless you include the "millenial bomber".

    July 8, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Alanna

    This isn't Germany.

    A fence would be more trouble than its worth. Yes we needs some sort of immagration reform but never this.

    July 8, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. Texas Trail Dog


    July 8, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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