The hot topic of immigration has come to a boil in recent weeks with a clash between President Joe Biden and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over the building of a border fence to keep illegal entrants from crossing into the U.S. Americans lean strongly toward Abbott in the feud, expressing strong support for a border wall, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.
Along with the economy and health care, immigration has leapt to the fore among the many issues that concern Americans this election year. The latest national online I&I/TIPP Poll, including 1,402 registered voters, asked three questions related to the topic, with special focus on the U.S.-Texas border row.
To begin with, voters were asked: “Do you support or oppose building a wall along the southern border to combat illegal immigration?”
The score wasn’t close: Among all respondents, 59% supported constructing a wall along our southern border, either “strongly” (41%) or “somewhat” (18%). Just 32% oppose the idea, either “strongly” (17%) or “somewhat” (15%).
As with many other things in America these days, political differences can be huge. Democrats are split close to evenly, with 43% supporting a wall and 47% opposing it. Republicans overwhelmingly like the idea, with 85% support and just 11% opposition. A slight majority of independents (51%) back a wall, while 37% reject it.
Pro-wall sentiment among minority voters is likewise solid: Blacks (52% support, 34% oppose) and Hispanics (54% support, 37% oppose) both support a border wall.
The ensuing two questions relate to the fractious dispute between Biden and Abbott regarding the latter’s construction of a border fence to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into his state.
In response, some suggested that Biden might take control of the Texas National Guard in an effort to halt the border fence construction.
Specifically, I&I/TIPP asked: “If President Biden nationalizes and takes control of the Texas National Guard to stop the state from building a border fence to prevent illegal border crossings, would you support or oppose his decision?”
On this, only 38% said they would support his decision, either strongly (20%) or somewhat (17%), while a plurality of 50% said they would oppose it, either strongly (37%) or somewhat (13%).
On this question, political party choice tells the tale: Democrats would support Biden strongly at 61% to 23%. Republicans, by comparison, would even more strongly oppose the move, with just 16% supporting Biden and 78% opposing him. Likewise, only 33% of independents support such a bold move by Biden, while 49% oppose it.
In the final query, I&I/TIPP Poll asked: “An estimated 25 states support Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in building a fence, even though the Biden administration opposes it. How concerned are you that such a broad conflict could turn into an actual conflict or even war between the states over illegal immigration.”
“War between the states”? Apparently, it’s not at all far-fetched. Many Americans see illegal immigration as a make-or-break issue.
Among those responding to the I&I/TIPP Poll, 49% said they were either “very concerned” (18%) or “somewhat concerned” (31%) that the widening differences over illegal immigration could turn into open conflict. In contrast, just 38% said they were “not at all concerned (14%)” or “not very concerned” (24%).
Democrats and Republicans are nearly identical in their feelings: Democrats break 54% concerned vs. 34% not concerned, while Republicans are 55% concerned, 36% not concerned. Independents? They aren’t as worried. While 41% are concerned, 46% aren’t.
Race is another dividing point. White respondents were 47% concerned, 43% not concerned, while blacks and Hispanics showed far greater concern, 59% to 28%, over the possibility of violent civil conflict or even secession.
With the 2024 election looming, the issue has risen to the surface in public debate. Abbott’s challenge to federal authority has forced his dispute onto the national agenda.
Further inflaming public opinion, key Biden administration officials have suggested they see no problem on the border, except for U.S. policy keeping illegal entrants out in the first place.
“Wouldn’t it be more orderly, and wouldn’t it be responsible governance to be able to deliver a lawful pathway to fill what we have, which is a labor need, and cut the exploitative smugglers out and give individuals a path to arrive lawfully, safely, in an orderly way, to perform labor that we need?” said Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s Homeland Security chief, in an interview with the New York Times Magazine this week.
In 2023’s final month alone, a record 250,000 people from Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East illegally crossed our southern border. All told, an estimated 6.2 million illegal immigrants have come to the U.S. during Biden’s time in office.
By comparison, data during the Trump administration’s years in office suggest that the number of illegal residents in the U.S. actually shrank by 400,000 during his term.
Congressional Republicans are fighting mad over what they call Biden’s open-border policies.
Last week, the Homeland Security Committee voted to send articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to the full House for failing to secure the border as required by law. However, while a simple majority would send the impeachment motion to the Senate for a full trial, it will require a two-thirds majority there to prevail.
At the state level, however, action is picking up.
Abbott and a number of other mostly red state governors, some 25 in all, argue that Biden’s actions on the border violate the Constitution. Specifically, illegal immigration critics cite Articles I and IV of the Constitution, which basically give states the right to defend themselves against invasion if the federal government can’t or won’t.
Recently, this idea was tested after federal Border Patrol agents were ordered to cut down portions of the fence that Abbott’s Texas had erected.
While a Supreme Court ruling tossed out a legal injunction against the Border Patrol, “contrary to many media reports – (the Supreme Court) didn’t rule that what Texas had done was illegal, or order Texas to stop policing the border,” wrote University of Tennessee law professor and Instapundit blogger Glenn Harlan Reynolds.
The next test comes in March, when a new Texas law goes into effect allowing the state to arrest illegals and deport them. Expect political and legal fireworks, and, potentially, even violence.
“Anyone who says Biden needs new laws to stop the migrant crisis is a liar,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida this week. “The law RIGHT NOW says if the President finds that the entry of any aliens would be detrimental to the U.S. he can ‘suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens’.”
With a near 50-50 split among the states on this issue, will this be a breaking point for our union, a casus belli that pits one state against another?
As this month’s I&I/TIPP Poll shows, Americans largely side with restricting illegal immigration flows into the country, including building a wall to keep those who would enter illegally out. But, as Reynolds notes, potentially “what you get looks disturbingly like the early stages of a civil war.”
I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.
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Republished with permission from TIPP Insights