More U.S. Voters Than Ever See a Crisis at the Border

A record-high 57% of voters say the United States is facing a crisis of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border
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Shares of voters who said the United States is facing a crisis of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border

Surveys conducted among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

February 05, 2024 at 4:29 pm UTC

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Immigration policy is one of the more divisive issues in American politics, but across the partisan aisle, survey trends show there’s increasing consensus among voters in both political parties: The U.S.-Mexico border is in a crisis.

According to a new Morning Consult survey conducted over the weekend, 57% of voters say the United States is facing “a crisis of illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border” — the highest we’ve measured on a question posed during the presidencies of Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

The share of voters who perceive a crisis includes 76% of Republican voters, up from 74% nearly three years ago, and 53% of independents, up from 50% over that same time period. It also includes 41% of Democrats, which is up from 31% during the opening months of Biden’s presidency, though a slightly larger share say the situation at the border is just a problem, or is not a problem at all.

The results in the Feb. 3-4 survey come as the latest bipartisan immigration push in the Senate looks headed for the chopping block as lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to grapple with a policy debate they have been unable to resolve for years. As our recent swing-state surveys with Bloomberg News underlined, immigration continues to be a bad issue for Biden and the Democrats, which Republicans are working to highlight with their impeachment effort against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Democrats have accused Republicans of playing politics with the matter, pointing to the push among conservatives at former President Donald Trump’s urging to kill the Senate’s bipartisan effort before its text was even revealed. But at this point, it’s the party in charge of the White House that’s taking the bulk of voters’ blame for the problems on the Southern border.

Biden, Democrats Take More Blame for Border Surge

Shares of voters who said the following are “very responsible” for the influx of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border:
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Survey conducted Feb. 3-4, 2024, among a representative sample of 2,004 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Roughly half of voters (49%) said Biden is “very responsible” for the influx of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, followed by 2 in 5 who said Democrats in Congress were that culpable. Mayorkas, one of the most well-known and unpopular officials in Biden’s Cabinet, gets blame from 34% of voters. Less than a quarter of voters held Trump or Republicans in Congress very responsible.

The survey suggests the border situation is also hurting Biden with his base: 3 in 10 Democrats hold Biden very responsible for the surge of migrants at the border, similar to the 33% who blame congressional Republicans.

The bottom line

The immigration issue is uniquely dominating the news cycle at this point, according to our ongoing tracking of the issue matrix surrounding the 2024 elections. Roughly 2 in 3 voters in a separate survey over the weekend reported hearing something about immigration, more than any of the other 18 matters tested, and the bulk of that attention was negative. 

This is surely hampering Biden’s standing on immigration, as he and Democrats continue to face a large trust gap with Trump and their Republican counterparts to handle the matter.

With no votes yet on Capitol Hill, Republicans have yet to take a hit for the House GOP’s Trump-pressured opposition to the Senate’s bipartisan border security legislation — likely driven by the fact just 1 in 5 voters (18%) said they have seen, read or heard “a lot” about the congressional negotiations. 

While Republicans are benefiting from the fact that many voters see a crisis at the border, the coming weeks may show whether Democrats can finally shift the blame in the GOP’s direction and prove to voters that Trump’s followers in Congress are obstructing efforts to fix it. 

A headshot photograph of Eli Yokley
Eli Yokley
U.S. Politics Analyst

Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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