Americans Support Border Wall, Fear Civil War
A new poll is revealing that the majority of Americans support building a border wall and enabling states to defend the border in the federal government’s absence. According to an I&I/TIPP survey released on Monday, 59% of American voters back the construction of a southern border wall, including 41% who “strongly” support the wall and 18% who “somewhat” support it. Only 32% oppose it, either “strongly” (17%) or “somewhat” (15%). Notably, nearly half (43%) of Democrats support a border wall, with only 47% opposing it. The border wall also has support from minorities, with 52% of black Americans and 54% of Hispanic Americans backing it.
This comes as Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) and a slate of other Republican governors have mobilized state National Guards to defend the border, while the Biden administration refuses to address the crisis. As congressional Democrats have urged President Joe Biden to federalize the Texas National Guard, a plurality of Americans oppose the move: only 38% of voters said that they would support Biden in commandeering the National Guard, while 50% said they would oppose the decision. The survey notes:
“On this question, political party choice tells the tale: Democrats would support Biden strongly at 61% to 23%. Republicans, by comparison, would even more strongly oppose the move, with just 16% supporting Biden and 78% opposing him. Likewise, only 33% of independents support such a bold move by Biden, while 49% oppose it.”
Additionally, a number of Americans have expressed their concern that the conflict between the Biden administration and the state governors trying to stem the tide of illegal immigrants could result in a second civil war. Forty-nine percent of voters said that they were concerned “that the widening differences over illegal immigration could turn into open conflict.” Only 38% said that they were not concerned, while 11% said they were not sure. On this question, white Americans were split, with 47% expressing concern and 43% responding that they were not concerned; whereas 59% of black and Hispanic Americans said that they were concerned about a civil war and only 28% said that they were not.
The dispute over controlling the southern border has been rapidly approaching a boiling point over the past weeks. In addition to Abbott’s efforts to place razor wire barriers along the border, House Republicans voted last week to advance articles of impeachment against Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas. The resolution argues that Mayorkas has committed high crimes and misdemeanors in essentially abandoning his responsibility to secure the nation’s border and refusing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.
“Wouldn’t it be more orderly, and wouldn’t it be responsible governance,” he asked in an interview, “to be able to deliver a lawful pathway to fill what we have, which is a labor need, and cut the exploitative smugglers out and give individuals a path to arrive lawfully, safely, in an orderly way, to perform labor that we need?”
Instead of enforcing existing immigration law, Mayorkas has made it clear that he would rather enforce new or adjusted versions of that law. He recently served as the White House’s advisor on the creation of a new U.S. Senate bill which is being touted as a “compromise” between Democrats and Republicans on the border. The text of that bill, drafted behind closed doors, was finally released Saturday evening. Entitled the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024, the 370-page piece of legislation has been met with fierce criticism by stalwart conservatives. One of the bill’s key provisions is the creation of an emergency authority to bypass standard deportation procedures and speedily remove illegal entrants into the U.S. — but that emergency authority is only triggered if the week-long average daily illegal entries exceed 5,000 people. That emergency authority also expires once illegal entries decrease to an average of 3,750 people per day over a two-week period.
While the bill would appropriate billions of dollars for the hiring of additional border security personnel, the majority of these would be immigration judges and thousands of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers to process asylum claims. The legislation would also link border security to $48 billion in aid to Ukraine and almost $16 billion to Israel, leaving $54 billion to be spent on domestic protection. That is, out of the total $118 billion in appropriations, more than half would be going overseas.
Some Republicans have responded to the bill with outrage. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) called the legislation “asinine,” further noting, “As to the substance of the ‘border emergency authority,’ it appears to be left to the discretionary whims of Secretary Mayorkas — who, I might add, is currently being impeached for failing to actually enforce existing law.” Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) echoed Lee’s sentiments, saying, “The House is impeaching Mayorkas next week while the Senate will be voting to give him massive discretion to ... not enforce the border. Why would any Republican vote for this?” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said, “This bill is even worse than we expected, and won’t come close to ending the border catastrophe the President has created.” He pledged, “If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival.”
A Harvard CAPS-Harris poll released last month found that Biden’s approval rating is ranked lowest on immigration (at 35%) as the issue has beaten out inflation, economy, and even surging crime rates as the most important crisis for American voters. The same poll found that nearly 60% of Americans agree that they “miss Donald Trump’s policies on the economy, immigration and crime,” including almost a third of Democrats.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.