NEW YORK – By a two-to-one margin Americans favor using National Guard troops temporarily to help border patrol agents on the Mexican border, a proposal President Bush made in his immigration speech to the nation Monday night.
In addition, a clear majority says they would support increasing the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country if illegal entry could be stopped, according to this week’s FOX News national poll.
Almost all Americans view illegal immigration as a serious problem for the country today.
The new poll finds that the public favors using National Guard troops temporarily to help border patrol agents along the Mexican border:
63 percent favor the proposal and 31 percent oppose.
While there are significant partisan differences, majorities of Republicans (78 percent), independents (58 percent) and Democrats (52 percent) favor using the National Guard for this purpose. Among people who watched President Bush’s televised speech, 67 percent favor.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on May 16-18. The margin of error is plus- or minus-3 percent.
President Bush gave an Oval Office address to the nation about immigration and border security on Monday, May 15.
Looking at other proposals being discussed, majorities of Americans favor increasing the number of federal agents patrolling the border in general (79 percent), allowing illegal immigrants who have jobs to apply for legal, temporary-worker status (63 percent) and deporting as many illegals as possible (55 percent).
These results are essentially unchanged from polling conducted last month.
“While the president has seen some criticism from both sides of the immigration debate, his approach appears to hit a balance that most Americans approve,” comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. “The problem for the administration is that a moderate, balanced approach may be hard to sell in Washington, where partisan polarization is more fashionable.”
If illegal immigration could be stopped, Americans would be willing to increase legal immigration.
Two-thirds (66 percent) say they would favor increasing legal immigration if illegal entry could be stopped -- three times as many as would still oppose increasing the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country (22 percent).
More than eight in 10 Americans think illegal immigration is a serious problem for the country today, almost the same number as said so this time last year.
Over half (57 percent) see illegal immigration as a “very” serious problem and another 29 percent “somewhat” serious.
On a different measure of importance, the public is a bit more divided.
Just over half (52 percent) say they would be willing to pay $100 dollars more in taxes for border security, while a sizable minority says they wouldn’t (43 percent).
Few people think Congress is doing a good job handling the issue of immigration.
More than twice as many say Republicans are not doing enough (28 percent) as say Democrats are blocking action on the issue (11 percent), with 13 percent saying Congress is doing a good job.
Most people think the United States has the right to decide who can move to this country and when they can move here (90 percent).
Finally, how does the public view the “Minutemen,” the organization whose members patrol the Mexican border looking for illegal crossers?
More people see them as concerned citizens doing a job the government is not doing (46 percent) than see them as “vigilantes” who should leave patrolling to professional law enforcement (34 percent).
One in five haven’t heard of the Minutemen or are unsure.
PDF: Click here for full poll results