Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on a single policy solution on immigration: Poll

The partisan chasm on immigration proposals is so wide that there is little, if any, common ground to be found between the right and left on policy solutions, according to a new poll commissioned by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos, asked respondents to rate their support or opposition to eight different immigration policies, and none of the proposals received majority support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Three proposals came close.

Of all respondents, 66 percent said they would support making it easier for people fleeing violence to immigrate to the United States; 84 percent of Democrats supported that idea, as did 64 percent of independents and 49 percent of Republicans.

Raising penalties on businesses hiring undocumented workers was supported by 85 percent of Republican respondents, 67 percent of independents, 66 percent of all respondents, and 48 percent of Democrats.

And increasing deportations found support from 89 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents, 65 percent of all respondents, and 46 percent of Democrats.

The poll comes as the Biden administration is weighing options to address immigration through executive action, including potentially making more immigrants eligible to work legally or cracking down on asylum at the border.

In the survey, proposals leaning toward making it easier for foreign nationals to immigrate or regularize their status received the approval of at least 73 percent of Democrats, and only cracked 40 percent approval among Republicans in one case.

The proposal with the largest Republican-Democrat split was expansion of the border wall. An overwhelming 87 percent of Republicans approve that idea, while only 28 percent of Democrats do. Overall, respondents were evenly split on the wall: 52 percent of independents and 54 percent of respondents overall approve further wall construction.

Democratic support was highest for crating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country: 85 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of respondents overall and 59 percent of independents support that notion, though only 33 percent of Republicans agree.

A toned-down version of a path to citizenship, “establishing a way for most immigrants currently in the country illegally to stay here legally,” drew the support of 80 percent of the poll’s Democratic respondents, 54 percent of respondents overall, and 52 percent of independents.

Republicans overwhelmingly reject the idea: Only 27 percent voiced approval.

A proposal to increase the number of people allowed to come legally drew the support of 73 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of independents, and 55 percent of all respondents and 36 percent of Republicans.

Ahead of November’s election, the partisan divide presents a challenge for both parties to appease their respective bases while winning over undecided and centrist voters.

Republicans are pushing the issue more aggressively — an AdImpact analysis of ad spending commissioned by the Immigration Hub found that the GOP has spent $38 million on “anti-immigrant TV ads” connected to federal, state and local races in six battleground states.

Excluding Montana, where Democrats and groups aligned with Democrats have spent $1 million on TV and digital ads, “Democratic candidates and groups spent $2,534 on 3 ads that aired 25 times in Texas.” The anti-immigration ads received 2.3 billion views, compared to 25 million for the pro-immigration ads, according to that report.

And the report found that a majority of the Republican and Republican-leaning ads were placed in North Carolina, Texas and Ohio, states where Republicans already hold an advantage.

Those investments could address intra-party divisions on immigration.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll found significant differences in attitudes toward the proposed policy solutions between “Trump Republicans” and “Non-Trump Republicans,” and between Liberal and moderate or conservative Democrats.

The poll defined Trump Republicans as respondents who express a very favorable opinion of former President Trump, and non-Trump Republicans as those who expressed somewhat favorable or unfavorable views. The two groups are more or less evenly split — 53 percent of Republican respondents fell into the pro-Trump category, and 47 percent did not.

Among Democrats, the biggest split was on support for border wall construction. Liberals overwhelmingly reject the idea: Only 15 percent said they support more wall construction, while moderate and conservative Democrats are split, with 56 percent support.

Increasing deportations and raising penalties on companies who hire undocumented workers also showed nearly-30 percentage point splits among Democrats.

Those three policies garnered overwhelming support among all Republican respondents, but measures to either increase immigration or allow immigrants to get papers proved divisive among Republicans.

The biggest split was between 42 percent of non-Trump Republicans who favor allowing most undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally, while only 15 percent of Trump supporters favor that measure.

Similarly, a pathway to citizenship drew 46 percent support among non-Trump Republicans, and 22 percent among Trump supporters.

Majorities of non-Trump GOP voters voiced support for making it easier for immigrants on temporary visas to stay in the United States, and for making it easier for people fleeing violence to come to the country, while only about a third of pro-Trump Republicans supported those measures.

The poll was conducted April 5-4 among a weighted national sample of 1,021 adults nationwide, with a reported 3.3 percent overall margin of error, and a 6.3 percent margin of error for Republicans, 5.8 point margin for Democrats and 5.1 point margin for independents.

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