An annual survey of Texas residents found a state torn over the path forward for immigration and border security reforms.
The 2017 Texas Lyceum Poll released Tuesday demonstrates a diversity of opinions surrounding border improvements, paths to citizenship and crackdowns on sanctuary jurisdictions. Though many outlets in the state and around the country will lead with the finding that 61 percent of Texans disapprove of a border wall to protect against illegal immigration, a remarkable 80 percent welcome “tightening U.S. border security and providing Border Patrol with increased technology, infrastructure, and personnel.” Various questions throughout the survey help delineate between semantics and substance.
President Donald Trump’s promises, positions and executive orders consistently poll underwater, yet the primary drivers for the same remain in the front of Texans’ minds. The Texas Legislature and Capitol Hill Republicans are just as unpopular. The poll reports that 61 percent of Texans oppose a “wall” to protect against illegal immigration while 35 percent offer their backing, with only four percent of respondents on the fence—just outside of the margin of error. Speaking broadly to the President’s handling of the immigration issue as a whole, only 38 percent offer their support.
President Trump’s recent slate of executive orders is also panned. Though only 22 percent said that such orders would actually make the country less safe, 39 percent argue they make no net difference. Thirty-seven percent of Texans, however, argue that the policies improve security.
The deport-em’-all narrative hoisted onto the White House by many in the news media has apparently taken its toll as well, showing that 62 percent of Texans do not want to see all illegal aliens removed. An even 50 percent of respondents do believe that given the chance, Trump would do so.
Sanctuary city proponents can take little comfort in the figures. The issue broke largely along partisan lines, yet 45 percent of Texans are supportive of the policies to shield certain individuals from immigration detainers; as opposed to 49 percent of Texans wanting to see the policies ended. Despite overall disapproval for sanctuaries, Texans are not as strict when one dives into the details. In all of the primary reasons for a person to interact with police, Lone Star residents believe the only time a person’s immigration status should be checked is if they are considered a suspect or worse at the time.
Texas border budget expansionists are shown caution signs, with a plurality of respondents arguing for a decrease or maintaining of the status quo where state funding for border protections is concerned.
Border infrastructure remains overwhelmingly popular as mentioned before, and could potentially reflect the words of some Republicans suggesting that Trump should not always be taken literally. At various points in the campaign, the Republican candidate himself explained that “a wall” may not always be required or practical along the entire border—instead relying on surveillance technologies and other forms of infrastructure where appropriate.
Advocates working to keep immigration policy at the forefront are earning their keep. The poll found that immigration policy is the number one issue facing the state and nation at large. Public safety and economics are the drivers for interest, buttressing Trump’s core positions shared on the campaign trail.
Supporters of a pathway to citizenship have plenty of reasons to cheer the results, too. Accounting for all degrees of support surveyed, 90 percent of Texans would accept a plan that places illegal aliens into the back of the naturalization queue with an expectation they pay taxes, pass a criminal background check, and learn English. On a similar note, in-state tuition rates for DREAMers and allowing the retention of those with post-secondary degrees are also palatable.
Cultural conservatives are still standing their ground in the public’s eye where assimilation is concerned. Fifty-two percent argue that newcomers within 10 years brought their own cultures and values with them and have yet to stir into the melting pot.
Labor reformers hoping to crack down on illegal hires and reduce or at least tailor the flow of low-skilled help to meet contemporary economic needs also see promise. A strong 58 percent support low-skilled labor pegged to market needs, whereas 72 percent want to see “stiff” enforcement on employers with respect to work eligibility.
The poll reflects 1,000 “citizens” spoken to over land and mobile lines. The sample was not limited to registered voters, which can sometimes generate a more conservative snapshot.