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Most NM voters oppose wall despite security concerns

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Two-thirds of New Mexico voters consider border security a very serious or somewhat serious problem, yet a majority oppose building a wall to beef up security, according to a new Journal Poll.

“It is interesting that in a state like New Mexico, which is a border state, a majority of likely New Mexico voters (56 percent) oppose the building of a border wall,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the Journal Poll earlier this month.

“There are many people who consider border security a problem, but evidently they don’t see the border wall as the solution,” he said.

In addition to the wall and border security, the statewide poll also asked about the status of DACA recipients and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Two-thirds favored allowing DACA recipients to remain in the United States, while a little over a half wanted to keep ICE.

Immigration remains a wedge issue on the campaign trail, and the poll confirmed that on the four key issues it covered when it came to party affiliation.

For example, 83 percent of Democrats opposed a border wall, and only 9 percent supported it, while 72 percent of Republicans wanted the wall and 23 percent opposed it.

“What we’re finding is there’s a strong correlation between feelings about Donald Trump and attitudes toward the building of a border wall,” Sanderoff said.

President Donald Trump promised during his campaign to build a “big, beautiful wall” and has made it a signature issue of his administration but has had trouble getting Congress to approve the billions of dollars in funding he wants for the new barrier.

The Journal Poll found the age group most opposed to a wall are young adults, with 69 percent of voters ages 18 to 34 against it.

Although most New Mexicans polled do not want a wall, a majority of voters in the state agree border security is “a very serious problem” or “a somewhat serious problem.”

The poll found that the level of concern surrounding security correlates with party affiliation and geography. In eastern New Mexico, a Republican stronghold, 63 percent of likely voters considered border security “a very serious problem,” compared with 17 percent of voters in north-central New Mexico.

Far more Democrats than Republicans supported allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children to remain in the U.S. and eventually apply for citizenship – but overall support remained strong.

“Two-thirds of New Mexico’s likely voters, 67 percent, support DACA essentially,” said Sanderoff, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields some young immigrants from deportation.

Nearly half of the Republican voters surveyed – 48 percent – supported DACA as well as giving them a path to citizenship, compared with 34 percent who opposed it. More than 80 percent of Democrats supported DACA, while only 9 percent opposed it.

The Journal Poll found little support in the state to “abolish ICE,” a rallying cry of some Democratic Party leaders in response to what they consider increasingly harsh immigration enforcement.

“We find most New Mexicans do not support that,” Sanderoff said.

But Democrats were divided on the issue – 42 percent supported getting rid of ICE and 35 percent supported keeping the agency.

“The bigger debate in the general public seems to be regarding the tactics that are used by ICE rather than whether or not it should exist,” Sanderoff said.

The Journal Poll is based on a scientific sample of 423 registered voters who cast ballots in the 2014 and 2016 general elections and said they were very likely to vote in this year’s election.

The poll was conducted September 7-13 by professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone. Both cellphone numbers (64 percent) and landlines (36 percent) of proven general election voters were used.

The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. The margin of error grows for subsamples.