Donald Trump’s dream to build a “big, beautiful” wall separating the U.S. from Mexico comes as partisan views on immigration have grown even more divided, leaving little common ground between Democrats and Republicans on enforcement at the border, according to a new poll this week by the Pew Research Center.
A sweeping majority of Republicans — 73% — agree that a fence should be built along the nearly 2,000-mile border, compared to 29% of Democrats who feel the same. And as Republican support has gone up, Democratic support has gone down, widening the divide by more than 10 points in both directions over just the last four years.
The Republican emphasis on tighter enforcement at the border has been reflected in the GOP presidential race, with Trump leading the charge in calling for Mexico to foot the bill in building a wall at the border. Other candidates have condemned the plan, calling it overly expensive and ineffective in achieving the end goal of eliminating illegal immigration at the border. Overall, the partisan divide ultimately levels out with roughly half, or 46%, of the American public favoring a fence, a level that has remained unchanged since 2007.
Almost ironically, the one area that American voters from both parties have consistently agreed on is the same issue that has created a gaping divide among presidential candidates. Strong majorities — 66% of Republicans and 80% of Democrats — favor providing a legal status to undocumented immigrants who meet specific requirements. The broad support across partisan lines has remained consistent over the last several years. But it is an issue that has bogged down those campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination: The candidates have staked positions along a wide spectrum, ranging from limiting legal immigration to providing a clear pathway to legal status.
The Pew survey, polling 1,502 adults between Sept. 22-27, also found that a majority of Americans opposed ending birthright citizenship, a constitutional right granted to all people born in the U.S. About four in 10, or 37%, say they are in favor of amending the Constitution to require parents to be legal residents in order for their children to be considered full U.S. citizens.