Among the many different issues that roiled the electorate in this 2022 midterm-election cycle, perhaps none had as large an impact as illegal immigration. On this issue, American voters remain fed up with the status quo and want major changes made, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.
Given the more than 500% increase in illegal crossings in the last five years, we asked poll respondents shortly before the election what should be done about the “costly disruption of border cities, human trafficking, higher crime and suspected terrorists crossing the border.”
One answer stood out as unworkable to the 1,359 voters who answered the online I&/TIPP Poll, taken from Nov. 2-4: “Keep the current policy in place,” which was supported by only 11%. The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.
So which policy responses were most popular among voters?
Among the five possible answers, 45% said that “Close the border to all illegal entrants and immediately deport those who are caught,” making that the No. 1 response.
That was followed by “Implement a temporary worker visa program to allow in those that have skills that fit into our economy,” not far behind at 36% of the responses.
The third most cited response was “Build a wall, close the border,” at 29%. “None of the above” garnered 11% support.
Not surprisingly, while most respondents wanted something new done to stanch the flow of illegal entrants into the U.S., which reached 2.7 million in the 2020 fiscal year, political affiliation had a big impact on how the answers broke down.
For instance, the policy response of “Close the border to all illegal entrants and immediately deport those who are caught,” received support from just 31% of Democrats, compared to 67% of Republicans. As is often the case, independents were somewhere in the middle, at 41%.
As for implementing a temporary visa program to let in skilled workers, that was most favored by Democrats at 44%, while just 23% of Republicans chose that as the best path forward. Independents were closer to the Democrats, at 40%.
“Build a wall, close the border”? Just 15% of Democrats liked that response, versus 52% of Republicans and 24% of independents.
As for the “status quo,” 18% of Democrats said that would be best, while just 4% of Republicans and 9% of independents agreed.
Recent polls suggest that immigration has become a serious issue for many voters, in particular those who are considered center or right of center. Our own October I&I/TIPP poll found that 43% of Americans felt Republicans would do a better job on border issues than Democrats, at 34%.
Within those polls, voters likewise made it clear: They feel that the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, is paying more attention to their problems and is most likely to address them. And one of those key issues that will likely drive voters to the voting booths is immigration.
Citing a recent Washington Post-ABC Poll, the U.K. Daily Mail noted that “80% of GOP supporters or right-leaning voters have or say they will vote, compared to just 74% of Democrat supporters. 48% of Republican backers said they were watching the election ‘closely,’ compared to 37% left-leaning voters.”
A Harvard/Harris poll out last month found that immigration was No. 3 on Americans’ list of major concerns. The same poll noted that immigration was the top issue that 37% of voters felt Republicans were most concerned with.
In short, it seems highly likely that the hot-button immigration issue will drive voters, perhaps even some Democrats, toward the Republicans in this election. The Harvard/Harris Poll found that 53% of likely voters will support GOP candidates, versus 47% for Democrats.
Recent developments suggest border issues could grow in importance in coming months.
In October, border patrol agents nabbed nearly 210,000 illegal entrants into the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security also estimated that a record 86,796 of so-called “gotaways,” illegals who evaded capture, made it across the U.S. border.
As the pro-border and immigration control Foundation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) tweeted, “These are particularly worrisome to border agents because, unlike ones that are caught, the ‘gotaways’ represent unknowns. Border Patrol agents believe terrorism suspects, criminals and other high-value targets are among those sneaking through.”
It’s not just the fact that so many are coming without permission; it’s also other things, such as the fact that now illegal immigrants aren’t just coming from neighboring countries, but from all over the world as word gets out about the U.S.’ lax border enforcement.
Perhaps most concerning to Americans of all political beliefs is the upsurge of crime and drug trafficking as a result of the open-borders policy. Human smuggling is now a $13 billion business controlled by criminal cartels.
Along with humans, enormous amounts of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl are pouring in. According to one estimate, in June alone the amount of illegal fentanyl smuggled into the U.S. was enough to kill 140 million people.
I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique and informative data each month from our polls on this topic and others of public interest. TIPP has a reputation for polling excellence, one that 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.