Poll: Americans Now More Opposed to Border Wall, Less Concerned about Controlling and Reducing Illegal Immigration

January 24, 2019

American political leaders are searching for a compromise to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, sparked by a debate over funding for a border wall. According to a new report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, support for expanding the border wall and fencing with Mexico has declined seven percentage points since the summer of 2016, with declining support concentrated among Democrats. While controlling and reducing illegal immigration has remained a key political talking point, an all-time low of 42 percent of Americans describe it as a very important goal.

Key findings from the report, “Majority of Americans Oppose Expanding U.S.-Mexico Border Wall,” include:

  • A majority of Americans (55 percent) oppose expanding the existing border wall and fencing with Mexico, while four in ten (41 percent) are in favor.
  • Only 42 percent of Americans overall describe controlling and reducing illegal immigration as a very important goal, an all-time low since the question was first asked in 1994 per the 2018 Chicago Council Survey.
  • Eight in ten Republicans (80 percent) favor such a wall, while 85 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents are opposed.
  • Support for expanding the border wall and fencing with Mexico has declined seven percentage points since the summer of 2016, with declining support concentrated among Democrats.
  • Partisan divisions over the importance of controlling and reducing illegal immigration are at all-time highs, with a 52-percentage-point gap between Republicans who see it as a very important goal and Democrats who do not, per the 2018 Chicago Council Survey.

 

For more findings, graphics, and methodology, download the full report here.

Methodology

The analysis in this report is based on data from interviews conducted January 11 -13, 2019 by Ipsos Public Affairs using their large-scale, nationwide online probability panel, the KnowledgePanel OmniWeb. A total of 1,019 interviews were completed among a weighted national sample of adults 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error on weighted data is ±3 percentage points for the full sample.

Additional results come from the 2018 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy, a project of the Lester Crown Center on U.S. Foreign Policy. The 2018 Chicago Council Survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research using their large-scale, nationwide online research panel July 12-31, 2018 among a weighted national sample of 2,046 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is ±2.37, including a design effect of 1.1954.

For both surveys, partisan identification is based on respondents’ answer to a standard partisan self-identification question: “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?”

The 2018 Chicago Council Survey was made possible by the generous support of the Crown family, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the U.S.-Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.