Most voters believe there's a border crisis — but they don't think Trump's wall will solve it

Key Points
  • Most voters think there is a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, but most do not believe a border wall will solve the problems, according to a new poll.
  • President Donald Trump has contended that his proposed barrier is necessary to secure the border amid a "humanitarian crisis."
  • Most voters oppose the wall and do not see it as a good use of money or as necessary to protect the U.S.
Migrants from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, climb a border fence to cross illegally from Mexico to the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, December 21, 2018.
Mohammed Salem | Reuters

Most Americans agree with President Donald Trump that a "crisis" is taking place at the southern U.S. border.

They just do not think the president's proposed border wall will solve the problems.

Trump has cast immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border as a "humanitarian crisis" as he argues for more than $5 billion to build the barrier. A dispute over the funding has led to a partial government shutdown now in its 25th day, the longest ever. Trump has insisted on wall money as a condition for reopening nine federal departments, while Democrats have urged him to support a House-passed plan to fund the government without resources for the barrier. Most Americans blame Trump for the closure.

Talks crumbled last week as hundreds of thousands of federal worker started to miss paychecks and numerous services were disrupted. As a resolution appeared elusive Tuesday, Trump again made his case for a wall.

In tweets, the president claimed that "only a Wall, or Steel Barrier, will keep our Country safe!" To boost his argument, he said, "polls are now showing that people are beginning to understand the Humanitarian Crisis and Crime at the Border."

Trump tweet

Trump tweet 2

Most voters do see a humanitarian crisis at the border — just not necessarily the kind the president describes, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday. Majorities also said the wall is not needed to secure the border, would not make the U.S. safer and would not be a good use of taxpayer money, according to the survey.

"While [American voters] believe there is both a humanitarian and a security crisis along the southern border, they absolutely don't think a wall will solve the problem," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement accompanying Monday's poll.

More Republicans supporting Trump's border wall

Here's what the poll shows:

  • Fifty-four percent of voters surveyed say there is a "security crisis" along the southern border, versus 43 percent who think there is not. Eighty-six percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents surveyed said there is a security crisis. However, only 25 percent of Democrats said there is a crisis.
  • Meanwhile, 68 percent of respondents believe a "humanitarian crisis" is taking place, while only 26 percent say otherwise. Groups across the partisan spectrum reached a consensus on the question: 65 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of both Democrats and independents agreed on the issue. That suggests the ideological groups have different views of what makes a humanitarian crisis. While Trump has focused his messaging on crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, Democrats have eviscerated the Trump administration after migrant children died in government custody.
  • Most voters do not view the border wall as the solution to the issues they see. Forty-three percent of respondents support building it, versus 55 percent who oppose the project. Opinion on the issue is deeply partisan: 88 percent of Republicans want the wall, while 92 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents do not.
  • Voters answered other questions about the wall similarly, along the same partisan lines. Only 40 percent believe the wall is a good use of taxpayer money, while 59 percent think it is not. Forty-three percent of respondents believe the barrier will make the U.S. safer, versus 55 percent who do not. Only 40 percent of voters answered that a wall is necessary to protect the border, while 59 percent said otherwise.
  • A mere 32 percent of respondents — including two-thirds of Republicans — support shutting down the government for border wall funding, while 63 percent oppose the tactic.

Trump's tweet also claims people have started to understand "crime at the border." The Quinnipiac Poll offers no evidence to back up the argument.

In fact, only 29 percent of respondents said undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than American citizens, while 63 percent answered that they are not.

A slim 2 percent of voters also said Trump's grisly, televised Oval Office address on border security last week changed their minds on the wall.

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