Poll finds border wall is popular again now that Trump is gone, bipartisan support emerges

Americans believe a border wall is part of the solution to illegal immigration and oppose the Biden administration’s plans to pay settlements to illegal immigrants whose families were separated after they jumped the border in the Trump era, according to a new poll taken for The Washington Times.

By better than 2-to-1 — 60% to 29% — voters disagreed with President Biden’s justification that the families suffered trauma and deserve taxpayers’ money as compensation. A stunning 47% “strongly” disagreed with the idea, swamping the 13% who strongly agreed.

And 53% said a border wall is “an effective way” to stop illegal immigration, compared to just 40% who disagreed.

But Americans signaled a generosity of spirit when it comes to immigrants who have been in the country a decade or more illegally without any serious legal entanglements. They “deserve a path to citizenship,” according to 59% of the voters polled.

The Times’ survey, conducted by OnMessage Inc. from Nov. 19 to Dec. 3, tested a wide range of hot-button issues, with a particular emphasis on immigration-related questions.

Support for the border wall was particularly striking.

It had been a winning position during the Bush and Obama years, but when then-candidate Donald Trump pushed the idea in 2015, support plummeted. When Gallup tested the issue in 2018, it found 57% opposed construction, and that deepened to 60% in 2019.

Now, though, with President Biden at the helm and halting wall construction, and with illegal immigration across the southern border hitting unprecedented levels, the barrier enjoys 13-point net positive support, at 53-40.

Republicans are strongly in favor, but so are nearly a third of Democrats.

Even among Hispanics — a community whose political leadership tilts Democratic and is vociferously opposed to the wall — about half said a wall would help control illegal immigration. About a third of Black voters supported the idea, too.

Nathan Klein, the pollster at OnMessage, said as the border numbers grew worse earlier this year under Mr. Biden, support for the wall rose.

That’s borne out by the 70% of voters in the survey who said the border situation is a “crisis,” including 60% of self-identified Democrats.

Mr. Biden and his team have rejected that term, suggesting this spring that what was going on at the border was “seasonal” and nothing out of the ordinary. As the numbers worsened over the summer, the administration pleaded for patience, saying it had a plan but it would take time to see results.

One plan Mr. Biden is already working on is paying thousands of illegal immigrant adults who were arrested and prosecuted for jumping the border under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance border policy, then saw their children taken.

Because federal prisons don’t have family facilities, adults who arrived with children were separated, with the children put into shelters run by the federal Health and Human Services Department. But the administration lacked the capacity to reunite most of the families, and many parents were deported without their children.

Mr. Biden has said they deserve to be compensated for their trauma.

“If, in fact, because of the outrageous behavior of the last administration, you coming across the border, whether it was legally or illegally, and you lost your child — you lost your child. It’s gone — you deserve some kind of compensation, no matter what the circumstance,” the president said. “What that will be I have no idea. I have no idea.”

Three-fifths of voters disagreed, according to The Times’ poll.

The president’s plans for legalizing illegal immigrants fared better.

Nearly 3 in 5 voters said they would back citizenship rights for long-term illegal immigrants — those who have been in the country a decade — without running seriously afoul of the law. They have “earned a place here,” according to 59% of voters.

Even 42% of Republicans agreed with that idea.

Still, Americans are skeptical of allowing more people to come legally. By a 49-40 split, voters said the country “admits too many people, hurting Americans already looking for jobs.”