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Poll: Americans care more about border crisis than foreign wars

Migrants take part in a caravan towards the US border from Tapachula, Mexico this week. Credit: Getty

November 3, 2023 - 10:30am

An overwhelming majority of Americans support an increase in funding to secure the southern border, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, and the issue is significantly more popular than providing aid for the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The survey found that among American adults, 73% support increased border funding, including 94% of Republicans and 59% of Democrats. Only 53% support an increase in funding for military aid to Ukraine, while 51% are in favour of increased military aid to Israel. Border funding was even more popular than the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza, which received 71% support. 

The Quinnipiac poll provides further evidence that Americans are losing their appetite for foreign wars. Another poll this week, conducted by Gallup, found that 41% of Americans believe the country is doing too much to help Ukraine, up from 29% in June. Among Democrats, that figure has risen from 10% to 14% since June, as well as from 50% to 62% among Republicans. 

President Joe Biden proposed a $105 billion funding bill last month which touches on these concerns. Within it, he advocates $61.4 billion for Ukraine’s defence, $14.3 billion for Israel’s, $13.6 billion for border security and $9.15 billion in humanitarian aid to Israelis, Palestinians and Ukrainians. The proposal has been divisive, in part because it would place Republicans in the position of voting for Ukraine funding if they want Israel funding to pass. Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a Republican bill that would fulfil Biden’s pledge of aid to Israel but not to Ukraine.

The US has seen record-breaking rates of migrant crossings in recent years, which have increased even further since the May expiration of Title 42, a Covid-era rule allowing the immediate expulsion of those caught migrating illegally. Monthly crossings have more than doubled since June, and have been dramatically higher throughout Biden’s time in office compared to his predecessor Donald Trump. 

There is currently a migrant caravan comprising an estimated 7,000 people traversing Mexico towards the US, but the development has received a tepid response from the media. After all, there was a 10,000-person caravan only last year, and border authorities apprehended 220,000 migrants this September alone. 

The impact of mass migration can be seen far beyond border towns. Major cities are seeing massive influxes of migrants, and both shelters and public schools are overwhelmed by the flood of immigrants. Public sentiment in these Democrat strongholds is shifting Rightward on the immigration issue, and the mayors of Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and New York have jointly requested a meeting with President Biden to address the migrant surge.


is UnHerd’s US correspondent.

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Matt M
Matt M
8 months ago

The most important issue across the West since at least 2010 has been mass immigration.
It was the issue that brought us Brexit, Trump, Meloni, Orban, Law and Justice, Le Pen, the issue that toppled Merkel, that changed the Swedish government.
The British voted for a party which promised a return to sub-100k numbers in 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.
Every voter knows you cannot have mass migration and retain your traditional way of life. Every voter knows you can’t import more people than you have housing stock, hospital beds, doctors appointments, school places, etc.
And yet our politicians collude across party lines to avoid the issue.

D Glover
D Glover
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

GB News has had two relevant interviews in the last week; Tony Abbott the ex-PM of Australa and Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson the ex-PM of Iceland.
They both said that they would stop illegal immigration by returning the migrants. Abbott has actually solved this problem once himself.
What choice are UK voters going to get next year? Neither Sunak nor Starmer are motivated to do anything. Sunak is a banker who wants to see a bigger GDP. Starmer sees a bloc of new voters coming his way.

Matt M
Matt M
8 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

That actually depends on the Rwanda verdict from the Supreme Court. If they approve it, then, if Tony Abbott’s experience is a guide, we should see the dinghy crossings reduce to zero – no one is paying ÂŁ5k for a place in a boat when you know you will just end up in central Africa.
That of course also depends on implementation, fighting off other legal challenges, etc.
But if they pull this off, it might have a big impact at the polls next year: “Vote Labour and the boats come back!”

R Wright
R Wright
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Illegal migration is a distraction from the real issue, which is legal migration.

Matt M
Matt M
8 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

I think they are both important. If you reduce legal visas you increase people attempting illegal routes. Legal needs to be brought down to below 100k, illegal needs to be stamped out.

Joan Wucher King
Joan Wucher King
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

An outstandingly succinct, on-point response.

Daniel P
Daniel P
8 months ago

Two things…

First, this is gonna be an issue internally for the democrats. Biden, if he swings to supporting border enforcement is gonna alienate young and progressive voters that a) he cannot afford to lose if he hopes to win and b) are loud and aggressive.

Second, we are going to look back on this and realize that the moves by Abbott of Texas and DeSantis of FL to ship migrants north to democrat, sanctuary cities, was a one of the more brilliant moves by a pair of politicians that we have seen.

Ira Perman
Ira Perman
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Biden is also loosing youth and progressive voters for his support of Israel. This cohort is Pro-Palestinian.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

I’m in favor of Victor Orban’s approach: “It’s simple. Don’t let them in.”

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
8 months ago

“Public sentiment in these Democrat strongholds is shifting Rightward on the immigration issue ….”
Immigration was always an issue for the Left, in that the influx of cheaper labour depressed wages.
It is only after years of being told so by Metro-Liberal Media that we have come to accept that immigration is a Right-wing issue.
Since 2020 Biden’s administration has been all about reversing every Trump initiative. How has that gone? Is the world a better, safer place for it. Even the most partisan Trump-deranged Democrat would struggle to make a convincing case for it.
Biden reopened the Southern Border. Why? For no better reason than because Trump had closed it. Illegal migrants and drugs have poured into the country, and lately it looks like a dose of reality might have crossed the Rio Grande with them, as Biden has belatedly decided that Trump’s much-derided wall will have to be built after all.  
There is an element of “Nimby-ism” to all this. Of the many thosands of illegal migrants that crossed into border towns, Biden and his supporters cared not a jot. Right up until Republican mayors shipped a few migrants to Blue cities and proved that Democrat rhetoric cannot survive first contact with objective reality. 
Martha’s Vineyard is a proud “sanctuary” jurisdiction in a self-proclaimed “sanctuary” state, (ie one which boasts they would never inform on illegal migrants to immigration authorities.) Yet within hours of a mere 50 migrants landing on their shores, this “sanctuary” declared an humanitarian crisis and did whatever they could to rid themselves of the burden. 50 migrants, in a place where 65% of homes sit vacant, awaiting their uber-wealthy owners on vacation, could not find anywhere to shelter these migrants?
Heavily Democrat-leaning residents decry the “callousness” of border towns for not welcoming migrants. El Paso in Texas receives between 1200 and 1300 every day. 
Wealthy denizens of Democrat controlled cities wish to advertise their moral superiority without it costing them anything, either in monetary terms, or effort or discomfort. The moment it does, they cry foul and wish to rid themselves of the problem.
But immigration is not the issue that will damn Biden’s legacy. His domestic policies – woeful though they may be, are as nothing to his disastrous foreign policies, which have made the whole world a more dangerous place and accelerated the decline of the West.

Last edited 8 months ago by Paddy Taylor
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Biden didn’t “reopen” the border. It had been closed because of Covid. A judge forced Biden to reopen the border, because the Covid crises had passed, and the law was irrelevant.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 months ago

This is going to be one of the defining issues of our time and, rather than war, threatens to finish off the Western nation state for good; to be replaced by what exactly? The EU? The WHO ? Global AI? Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos ?

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Africa, perhaps; I just read that 1 of 4 people on Earth in 2050 will be African. Given the state of that continent, I’m thankful I’ll be dead by then.

Last edited 8 months ago by Colorado UnHerd
Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
8 months ago

“The proposal has been divisive, in part because it would place Republicans in the position of voting for Ukraine funding if they want Israel funding to pass.” This sort of thing is not an isolated case; it is the norm and is one reason why government policies are chaotic and incoherent. 
It is clear that the federal government will not control immigration either because it is unwilling or because of the chaos and incoherence created by omnibus bills of the sort mentioned above. I think we have reached the point where only local action by those affected could be effective. Governors Abbott and DeSantis have sent a few migrants north to blue-state cities that support immigration, and this has focussed their attention on the problem by forcing them to do charity with their own money, communities, and quality of life instead of compelling others bear the burden. Imagine how much more effective the tactic could be if Abbott and DeSantis announced that they would send every migrant they catch north. How long would it take for even as inept an organization as the federal government to respond effectively? The mere announcement and gathering of busses for their transfer north might sent shockwaves through Washington. It might make DeSantis president.

Last edited 8 months ago by Erik Hildinger
Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
8 months ago

Ever since “illegal” became “undocumented,” and long before the children of illegal immigrants became “dreamers,” I’ve been aware Democrats aren’t being forthright. In the name of “compassion,” our government is not rigorously enforcing current immigration law, nor making the tough decisions necessary to create a better system that considers the good of the nation, not just the good of those trying to get in. Another issue that predicts “bye bye Biden” in 2024 and, sadly, bolsters Trump’s chances.

Last edited 8 months ago by Colorado UnHerd
Douglas H
Douglas H
8 months ago

Like it or not, charity begins at home.
If Putin had a hand in the Hamas attack, it was a master stroke.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
8 months ago

So which party is a “threat to democracy” again?