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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Wider Partisan Divide Over Border Fence Than Path to Legal Status

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Media Contact: Bridget Jameson

On Immigration Policy, Wider Partisan Divide Over Border Fence Than Path to Legal Status
60% of Public Opposes Ending ‘Birthright Citizenship’

As immigration emerges as a key issue in the presidential campaign, there is little common ground between Republicans and Democrats in views of several immigration policy proposals. But partisan disagreements are much more pronounced on some issues than others, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center.

Overall, the public continues to be divided over building a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexican border: 46% favor erecting a fence, while 48% are opposed, little changed from 2011 and 2007.

A large majority of Republicans (73%) support a border fence, while 23% are opposed. Democrats oppose building a border fence, 66% to 23%. Among independents, 43% favor a border fence, while 52% oppose this idea.

The survey, conducted September 22-27 among 1,502 adults, finds that most Americans (60%) oppose the idea of changing the U.S. Constitution to prohibit children of those who are not legal residents from becoming citizens; 37% favor changing the Constitution to end “birthright citizenship.”

Large majorities of those under 30 (71%) and those ages 30-49 (66%) oppose limiting birthright citizenship. Older age groups are more divided: Among those ages 50-64 as many favor (47%) as oppose (48%) this change to the Constitution. Among those 65 and older, 43% favor changing the constitution, while 52% are opposed.

Republicans and Democrats are far apart on this issue: By 75% to 23%, Democrats oppose changing the Constitution to ban birthright citizenship. Republicans are evenly divided: About half (53%) favor amending the Constitution, while 44% are opposed.

By contrast, the survey finds that large majorities in both parties continue to favor a way for allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally, if certain requirements are met. About two-thirds of Republicans (66%) say people in the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay if they meet certain requirements, while 32% say they should not be allowed to stay legally. By nearly a factor of five-to-one (80% to 17%), Democrats say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally, provided certain requirements are met.

The full report is for immediate release and available at:

For more information or to arrange an interview with Carroll Doherty, director of political research, please contact Bridget Jameson at 202.419.4372 or

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  1. Retired INS's Avatar
    I spent 30 years with the INS and 9 years with USCIS. I am a very conservative republican, yet I disagree with most republicans, and most immigration enforcement agents. I worked both enforcement and benefits, so I have an understanding of almost all immigration issues.

    Fences: We already have fences in populated areas. Some want fences for the entire southern border. Maybe they should take a good look at some of the places they would put up fences. The Big Bend area of Texas has steep cliffs on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. You can skip the fences here. The Rio Grande runs through several hundred miles of open land used by ranchers. There is a large deer population that drinks from the river. Where will the deer drink if high fences are pup up? Relatively few aliens cross here anyway because of the rattle snakes. Those who cross here wrap thick magazines around their legs for protection.

    Birthright citizenship: The 14th Amendment is clear on this. Wording was changed from the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which excluded the children of temporary visitors. As an immigration officer I like birthright citizenship because it is easy to enforce. If changed, all children born in the U.S., not just the children of immigrants, will need more than a birth certificate to prove citizenship. USCIS offers a certificate of citizenship for $600, unless you are low income, then it is free. The unintended consequences of changes birthright citizenship are too numerous to mention.

    Sending all illegals home before giving them some status: Why would we want to destroy the very people we finally decide to let stay? Many aliens no longer have homes to go to. We should bring back 245(i) and let those we think should stay pay a fee to remain here. It will bring in billions in revenue and save even more billions in deportation costs. Besides, we want those who stay to love America. That won't happen if we destroy their families in the process of making them legal.

    Democrats are as bad as republicans because their main concern is getting more voters. If they would make logical arguments in support of their views, they might get somewhere. It seems both political parties are more concerned with destroying the other political party than they are in solving the problem.
  2.'s Avatar
    This is the most sensible comment by someone who knows what Immigration is all about. Thank you for your forthright explanation and a suggestion I have advocated for years. re-introduce I-245, people pay a fine, back taxes and a thorough background check. Given a SS # and work permit, and after 12 months eligible to apply for Permanent Residence without having to leave the US.
    Plain and simple no stupid conditions and half baked Executive Order by the President.

    Roy L. Stanley
    US Citizen 20 years
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