Poll: Swing District Voters Want a Narrow Bipartisan Solution for Dreamers

January 29, 2018

Juan Gastelum, gastelum@nilc-ijf.org, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, burgess@nilc-ijf.org, 202-384-1279

WASHINGTON — The results of a new poll released today by the National Immigration Law Center show overwhelming support for Congress to reach a bipartisan compromise that would protect immigrant youth and fund cost-effective border security measures using advanced technology rather than a physical wall. Importantly, the poll indicates that a majority of voters favor an immigration system based on family reunification and one that continues to welcome people from countries experiencing hardships.

The poll, conducted by Red Oak Strategic, surveyed 8,569 likely voters in 86 competitive House districts across the country, as determined by the Cook Political Report.

According to the poll, 80 percent of the likely voters in these swing districts think Congress should take action to protect Dreamers. Specifically, 70 percent support passing narrowly focused legislation that will allow Dreamers to stay legally in the United States and fund border security through enhanced techniques that, for example, incorporate advanced technology. A majority of voters who responded oppose building a physical wall (57%) and only 23.8 percent of voters believe that a physical wall is necessary to ensure border security. A majority believe that using new, advanced technology will be more efficient in securing our borders and more cost-effective.

Swing district voters also want any immigration compromise to reflect longstanding American values of keeping families together and welcoming nationalities from all over the world.

  • A majority believe that continuing to allow immigration from countries that are facing challenges, such as Haiti, Ghana, and others, is an important part of any compromise.

  • A majority are more likely to support an immigration compromise if it is based in family reunification.

Voters in these competitive districts sent a clear signal that if lawmakers don’t work together to resolve the DACA issue now, there will be consequences at the ballot box. Respondents to the poll said they would favor lawmakers who end this crisis with a bipartisan deal by a 52 to 18 percent margin. In contrast, they’ll punish lawmakers who stand in the way of a compromise by a margin of 48 to 18 percent.

“We conducted this survey to understand the political realities in the 86 most competitive House races in the country, and the message could not be any clearer: Policymakers who think they win by avoiding the issue risk losing in the midterm elections,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund. “Voters are watching, and they will punish elected officials for failing to protect Dreamers.”

“The poll results are clear: Voters overwhelmingly want Congress to work together to resolve the specific DACA crisis, which was created by the Trump administration’s reckless termination of the program in September with no solution in place for Dreamers,” said Johanna Calle, director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “Voters in swing districts across the country say that they want a solution for Dreamers and that there will be consequences for inaction.”

“While we’ve known there is absolutely no moral justification for failure to immediately pass a strong and clean Dream Act with no additional money for border security or a wall, this latest poll also shows there is likewise no political justification for not acting swiftly to save hundreds of thousands of young Dreamers from deportation,” said Eddie Carmona, political director of PICO California. “Dreamers are not pawns in a political negotiation that aims to bolster racist policies within the White House — they are human beings, and no human being deserves to be permanently separated from their family. We need a brand of politics that exhibits moral leadership, not a politics of incrementalism or gradualism, at a moment where thousands of human lives hang in the balance.”

Andrea Mercado, executive director of the racial justice organization New Florida Majority, said that poll results are a reflection of just how far President Trump’s latest Dream-related proposal is from the mainstream.

“A majority of Americans of all backgrounds are not ready to shed our nation’s immigrant legacy, nor are they willing to stand in the way of reuniting loved ones in their communities,” said Mercado. “This poll shows that the president’s extremist agenda is a ballot box loser. Likely voters in swing districts oppose a wall, they don’t want to divide families, and they don’t want to exclude immigrants from disadvantaged or underrepresented nations.”

“But the poll suggests a path forward,” concluded Hincapié. “There are bipartisan proposals in Congress that earn popular support across the spectrum, namely the bipartisan Dream Act and the USA Act, which combine protections for Dreamers with strategic investments in border security and, according to this poll, that framework is the most popular compromise currently on the table. A narrow bipartisan solution that recognizes Dreamers as Americans — rather than the extremist demands currently being made by the White House and some Republicans — is the way forward for our country that is consistent with our values. ”

A summary of the survey’s key findings is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/National-Online-Panel-Survey-KeyFindings-2018-01.pdf.

The full results are available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/National-Online-Panel-Survey-FinalResults-2018-01.pdf.