An expanded wall along the Southern Arizona border, which President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to secure $8 billion in funding for, will not decrease illegal immigration into the state, according to a new Arizona Daily Star poll in partnership with Tucson’s Strongpoint Opinion Research.
Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents polled after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history came to a close said they don’t believe a new wall will have much impact on illegal immigration.
The poll asked 1,506 respondents their thoughts about illegal immigration, the proposed border wall and who is to blame for the federal government shutdown. The online survey was conducted in early February.
Nearly a quarter — 22 percent — felt an expanded wall would result in a major reduction in illegal immigration into Arizona.
Roughly 2 percent of those survey said they didn’t know whether a new border wall would have an impact on immigration.
Survey respondents were not asked for their political affiliations; however, the polling group historically has been left-leaning in other Arizona Daily Star reader polls.
The poll also asked respondents to identify the single largest source of illegal immigration into Arizona.
Nearly half of all respondents — 49 percent — believed that international visitors overstaying work or student visas were the largest source, followed by 20 percent who blamed smugglers illegally bringing people through the desert and 14 percent who said it was migrants seeking asylum at ports of entry.
Additionally, 11 percent placed the blame on those who had border crossing cards who stayed past their allotted time, five percent said it was vehicles smuggling people through the ports of entry, and two percent said it was migrant workers with forged documents.
The poll, taken before Trump signed off on a new funding agreement to keep the federal government open, found that a majority of locals blamed him for the recent shutdown, the single largest in recent history.
Seventy percent blamed Trump for the shutdown, 25 percent blamed Democrats in Congress, and 3 percent said it was the fault of congressional Republicans.
Elected leaders were split on the poll results.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said while the number of people in Pima County who have doubts about the effectiveness of a border wall in stopping immigration is likely accurate, it doesn’t reflect how Americans feel about Trump’s proposal in other parts of the country.
In his travels around the country, Napier says, people are more supportive of the wall — pointing to Yuma and El Paso as examples of places where residents know that the wall works.
On the subject of a government shutdown, Napier said he believes that both parties should share the blame because they’ve allowed for a series of unusual government funding tricks — known as continuing resolutions — to fund the government for a set number of months.
The Pima County sheriff says the federal government should simply fund operations every year, just like the Sheriff’s Department budget and that crucial change would largely eliminate government shutdowns.
Sen. Martha McSally agreed.
“Government shutdowns are irresponsible and harm real people and our economy. Congress must work on finding solutions to the problems that affect our nation, including border security,” the Tucson Republican said.
Democrats Ann Kirkpatrick and Raúl Grijalva disagree.
Rep. Kirkpatrick, whose district includes all of Cochise County, says she believes that the 57 percent who don’t believe the wall will stop illegal immigration is just too low.
“I would think that the number is even higher,” Kirkpatrick said. “I can’t tell you how many people told me at my Congress on Your Corner event, ‘Don’t build the wall.’”
Southern Arizona knows their border region much better than those inside the Trump administration, she said.
“Southern Arizonans know the border. We know the further away from the border you live, the more fictional the border narrative,” she said. “I refuse to accept the president’s false depiction of my district.”
He said that the Trump administration invented a crisis along the southern border and that over time, more people will come to see the issue as a manufactured political ploy.