As the country wrestles with a future of historic-level deficits, 67 percent of U.S. voters say that illegal immigrants are a significant strain on the U.S. budget.
Just 23 percent disagree and do not believe illegal immigration strains the budget, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Two-thirds of voters say the availability of government money and services draws illegal immigrants to the United States. Almost 19 percent think otherwise, while 15 percent are not sure.
These findings help to explain why 68 percent say gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States. Just over 25 percent believe that legalizing illegal immigrants is more important.
The majority support for controlling the borders has been consistent through several years of surveying.
Budget documents provided by the Obama administration show that, in fiscal year 2009, 50 percent of all federal spending went to national defense, Social Security, and Medicare. A recent Rasmussen Reports survey shows that only 35 percent of voters believe that the majority of federal spending goes to just defense, Social Security and Medicare.
Just 20 percent say Congress is at least somewhat likely over the next year to pass legislation to gain control of the border and reduce illegal immigration, with a mere 4 percent thinking it’s very likely. About 70 percent see congressional action this year to control the border as unlikely, with 47 percent who say it’s not very likely and 24 percent who say it’s not at all likely.
On the other hand, 45 percent believe it’s at least somewhat likely that Congress will pass legislation in the next year to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. This finding includes 10 percent who say it’s very likely.
Almost half think it’s unlikely that Congress will approve legislation in the next year that makes it possible for those who are here illegally to become U.S. citizens. Of that number, 9 percent say it’s not at all likely.
This belief that Congress is more likely not to do what the majority of voters favor illustrates why unhappiness with Congress has reached the highest level ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports. Just over 70 percent of voters now say Congress is doing a poor job, and 63 percent say it would be better for the country if most congressional incumbents were defeated in November.
Just over 55 percent say the policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally, while 27 percent disagree and 17 percent are not sure.
Three-fourths of voters are angry at government policies, up 9 points since September.
A majority of voters across virtually all demographic categories agree that illegal immigrants are a strain on the budget and that they are drawn to America by the availability of government money and services. But there are partisan differences.
Almost 85 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party say illegal immigrants are a budget strain. Just 48 percent of Democrats agree, and nearly as many (40 percent) disagree.
Similarly, 77 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of unaffiliated voters see the availability of government money and services as drawing illegal immigrants to America. But only 50 percent of Democrats share that view.
The differences between the political class and mainstream voters are even sharper. While 78 percent of mainstream voters say illegal immigrants are a significant strain on the budget, 60 percent of the political class disagree.
Three-fourths of mainstream voters think the availability of government money and services draws illegal immigrants to the United States, while 53 percent of the political class reject that view.
But 59 percent of the political class say legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States is more important than gaining control of the border. Three-fourths of mainstream voters put controlling the border first.
The majority of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliateds believe that control of the border is more important, but that view is more strongly held by GOP and unaffiliated voters.
Eighty percent of voters rate the issue of immigration as at least somewhat important in determining how they will vote in the next congressional election. That includes 50 percent who say it is very important to them.
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