The current migrant crisis on the Texas border comes weeks after the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found that many Texans believe immigration and border security are the two most important problems facing the state.
The statewide poll, conducted in late May and early June before the situation on the border drew national attention, featured a battery of questions about Texans' attitudes on border security and immigration.
The results show that most Texans 54 percent agreed that all undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be deported immediately, compared with 30 percent who disagreed. The overall numbers reveal a deep partisan divide on immigration reform, says James Henson, co-director of the poll and director of the Texas Politics Project at The University of Texas at Austin.
"The fact that immigration and border security lead the pack in Texans' assessment of the most important problems facing the state is largely a result of intense Republican interest in those issues," Henson said. "Those two issues were seen as the most important problems in the state by 51 percent of Republicans, but by only 9 percent of Democrats."
The statewide poll, conducted May 30 to June 8, surveyed 1,200 registered Texas voters and had a margin of error of 3.28 percentage points. The poll was co-authored with Daron Shaw, professor of government, and Joshua Blank, manager of polling and research at the Texas Politics Project.
According to the findings:
- A large majority 73 percent believed that the U.S. government should restrict and control people coming to live in the U.S. more than it does now, while only 21 percent disagreed.
- A slimmer majority 54 percent agreed with the statement, "Undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States should be deported immediately." Forty percent disagreed with the statement.
- Asked which candidate for Texas governor they trusted more with respect to immigration reform, 45 percent of voters favored Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, and 32 percent favored Democrat state Sen. Wendy Davis. Twenty-four percent expressed no opinion.
As state and federal officials wrestle with ways to respond to the influx of mostly Central American migrants who are now being detained as they cross the U.S.-Mexican border into Texas, these poll results provide the context for how the public will likely view future policy decisions.
"Many Texans have been thinking about issues at the intersection of immigration and border security for some time now, according to the last several years of the UT/Texas Tribune polling," Henson said, "and the political patterns in their attitudes are well known to the Texas political leaders now attempting to implement policy responses to the current situation."
Graphics of Responses to Immigration Questions on the June 2014 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll:
These links also include crosstabs by party identification and selected demographic characteristics.