Partisan Divide Widens On Immigration Policy, Poll Shows

| by Sean Kelly
republicans, democrats further divided on immigration policyrepublicans, democrats further divided on immigration policy

According to a new Pew Research poll, Republicans and Democrats share very little common ground on immigration policy proposals. 

The poll showed that on the issue of building a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border — one of the most debated immigration proposals — 46 percent support it while 48 percent are opposed. Seventy-three percent of Republicans said they support building a fence, while 23 percent said they oppose it. Sixty-six percent of Democrats said they oppose a fence, while 23 percent supported the idea. Independents also opposed a border fence, 52 percent to 43 percent.

These numbers show a shift in ideology on both sides of the aisle since 2011, with the GOP moving further to the right, and Democrats moving further to the left. For instance, the share of Republicans who favor a border fence has increased 11 percentage points since a 2011 Pew survey. The share of Democrats who opposed a border fence has increased 10 percentage points since 2011. The percentage of Independents who oppose the border fence has remained unchanged over the last four years.

The poll, which was conducted on Sept. 22-27 and included 1,502 adults nationwide, showed that 60 percent of Americans oppose a Constitutional amendment to prohibit undocumented children from becoming citizens. Thirty-seven percent favored changing the Constitution to end the practice, known as birthright citizenship.

On the issue of birthright citizenship, Democrats oppose a Constitutional amendment 75 to 23 percent. Republicans support an amendment 53 to 44 percent.

This is a notable shift since the 2011 Pew Survey. Over the last four years, the share of Republicans who support ending birthright citizenship has increased by 6 percentage points. In contrast, the share of Democrats who support the idea has decreased 9 percentage points.

One thing that Republicans and Democrats do seem to agree on is the right of undocumented immigrants to earn legal status in the U.S. The poll showed that both Republicans and Democrats support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S., as long as they meet certain requirements. Republicans supported the idea 66 percent to 32 percent; Democrats supported it 80 percent to 17 percent.

Sources: Pew Research Center, Los Angeles Times / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Jim Greenhill/Flickr