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UT/Texas Politics Project Poll: Most Texas Voters Support Tougher Asylum Laws

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Photo credit: Phil Roeder via Flickr

AUSTIN, Texas — The latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll finds that a majority of Texas voters support making it harder for migrants to seek asylum in the U.S. Likewise, a majority are supportive of the measures undertaken by Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature in response to the border situation.

“While Republican voters’ concern about the border and advocacy of more restrictive enforcement and immigration policies have been evident in Texas polling for many years, the latest results provide evidence of strong concern among Texas Democrats, too,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project and co-director of the poll. “Nearly three-quarters of Republicans supported making it harder for migrants to seek asylum in the U.S., but so did 48% of Democratic voters.”

The poll was fielded Feb. 2–12 among 1,200 registered voters in Texas and has a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points.

Nearly half of Texas voters surveyed think the number of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border constitutes “a crisis,” while another 23% consider it a “very serious problem, but not a crisis.” Three-quarters of Republicans (74%) subscribe to the belief that the number of migrants constitutes a crisis — another 11% consider it a “very serious problem”— while 20% of Democrats said the situation was a crisis and 37% said it was a very serious problem.

Nearly half of Republicans strongly support making it harder for migrants to seek asylum in the U.S. (48%), compared with 18% of Democrats who strongly support such a change. The poll found the plurality of Democrats supportive of more restrictive asylum laws overall (48%), in addition to overwhelming support among Republicans (71%) and majority support among independents (55%).

“While the border has been the perennial concern of Texas Republicans, the situation has crossed some kind of threshold,” said Joshua Blank, research director of the Texas Politics Project. “Now, after decades of inaction by both parties, the border is forcing itself to the center of the national conversation that is going to be impossible for elected officials to ignore.”

In the 2024 U.S. Senate race, U.S. Rep. Colin Allred leads a crowded field of Democrats seeking to challenge incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, who faces only token opposition in the Republican primary. Among all Democratic voters, 50% view Allred favorably and 7% view him unfavorably, with the remaining 44% either expressing a neutral view (21%) or no opinion (23%). The share holding a favorable view of state Sen. Roland Gutierrez is smaller (37%), with 7% viewing him unfavorably.

“Allred has become the dominant player of the Democratic side of the U.S. Senate race,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll. “There is a decent chance that he gets more than the 50% threshold and avoids a run-off, which would greatly aid his effort to hit the ground running against Cruz.”

Looking ahead to the expected rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in November, the poll found that in a head-to-head matchup, Trump bests Biden 48% to 41%, with 7% opting for “someone else” and 4% undecided.

Other findings include:

  • The share of Democrats who said the U.S. is letting in too many legal immigrants (28%) has nearly doubled from 14% in February 2020.
  • An overwhelming majority of GOP voters support current measures by Abbott to respond to the border situation.
    • Ninety-one percent support constructing and/or repairing walls or physical barriers on the border between Texas and Mexico; 90% support deploying additional state police and military resources to the border between Texas and Mexico; 86% support placing buoys and barbed wire at the Rio Grande to deter migration; and 81% support paying to bus foreign migrants awaiting their asylum hearings to other parts of the country.
  • Sixty-four percent of potential Republican primary voters listed border security or immigration as important; 2% listed school choice, vouchers or education savings accounts.
  • The plurality of Texas voters, 45%, say that Texas abortion laws should be made less strict, with 27% saying they should be made stricter, and 21% saying they should be left as they are now.

Complete results, including a summary with methodological information, crosstabs and data files, can be found at the Texas Politics Project website.