For Immediate Release, July 14, 2011
||Jenny Neeley, Sky Island Alliance, (520) 490-3564
Julie Hillrichs, Vianovo/Texas Border Coalition, (972) 971-0117
Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 536-9351
New Poll: Americans Support Greater Investment in Ports of Entry, Not Border Walls
Majority Also Opposes Waiving Laws for New Wall Construction
WASHINGTON— An overwhelming number of Americans believe strengthening U.S. ports of entry is a better approach to border security than building additional border walls, a new poll by YouGov for Tucson-based Sky Island Alliance has found. The poll also found that a large majority of Americans also oppose waiving laws to build additional infrastructure and do not believe the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has the expertise necessary to do the job safely and properly.
“In examining this data, it is clear that the vast majority of Americans (92 percent)
strongly prefer beefing up the ports of entry to spending billions on hundreds of miles of
fencing in between the ports,” said Thom Riehle, senior vice president for public affairs
with YouGov, the international, internet-based market research firm that conducted the
online poll of 1,000 adults May 10-12, 2011. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus
Riehle said the poll sheds light on how quickly accurate information can move
Americans from a majority supporting to a majority opposing the border wall.
Though a surprisingly large number of respondents (56 percent) do not know much
about the existing border wall, the new public-opinion data demonstrate that Americans
are frustrated with the way the federal government is handling border issues such as
immigration (81 percent) and illegal drugs (76 percent).
Without context or information, a majority of respondents (63 percent) originally
supported almost any border security measure, including the wall. Only liberal
Democrats, Hispanics and adults under 35 years of age strongly opposed the concept.
However, when respondents learn that nearly 650 miles of walls and other infrastructure
have already been erected along the nation’s 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico and
that it would cost $6 million to $9 million per mile to add more barriers, support for the wall drops by 4 points to 59 percent.
Additional information and photographs showing the flooding and damage that occurs
because the Department of Homeland Security has waived all laws otherwise applicable to wall construction and lacks expertise to construct walls and other infrastructure helps to shift majority support away from extending the border wall, with 52 percent opposing or strongly opposing such a plan.
Sky Island Alliance Executive Director Melanie Emerson said the strongest arguments
against extending the border wall are that the wall is ineffective and that it drains
resources away from ports of entry where they are needed.
“In times of economic uncertainty it is important to focus resources where they will be
most effective. There is no excuse for wasting billions on a program that we know — and even the strongest advocates admit — won’t work,” Emerson said.
Emerson also pointed out that the lack of environmental expertise at Homeland Security, and the fact that the agency is not subject to any regulations or oversight under its existing waiver authority, is a serious problem for a majority of respondents.
“Sixty-four percent oppose giving DHS sole discretion to waive environmental and other
laws to build border infrastructure, and an identical number (64 percent) oppose
congressional efforts to permanently waive these laws for border security,” Emerson
Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, said: “Negative reaction is strong whether the agency is waiving environmental laws in sensitive lands or engineering and constructing border infrastructure without the engineering expertise necessary to do it safely.”
Monica Weisberg-Stewart, a McAllen, Texas businesswoman and chairwoman of the
Texas Border Coalition’s Immigration and Border Security Committee, said Americans
expect Homeland Security to do what it does best, where its efforts are most effective, and that is to block the illegal entry of immigrants and drugs at the ports of entry.
“Border Patrol policies, manpower, facilities and technology have to go hand-in-hand
with customs and border-protection policies, manpower, facilities and technology. Both
have to fit together to fulfill national goals involving trade, economic development, drug
interdiction, foreign policy and immigration,” she said. “To attempt to solve problems
involving one and not the other is a recipe for failure.”
About the Poll
The results of the U.S.-Mexico Border Land Management Survey are derived from an
online poll of 1,000 randomly selected adults. In this poll of adults, 90 percent (N=900)
reported being registered to vote. The survey was conducted May 10-12, 2011. The
margin of error of the total sample is +/- 3.1 percent.
About Sky Island Alliance
Sky Island Alliance is a grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and
restoration of the rich natural heritage of native species and habitats in the Sky Island
region of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The alliance works
with volunteers, scientists, land owners, public officials, and government agencies to
establish protected areas, restore healthy landscapes and promote public appreciation
of the region's unique biological diversity. For more information, visit our website at http://www.skyislandalliance.org/.
YouGov is a professional research and consulting organization, pioneering the use of
technology to collect higher quality, in-depth data for companies, governments and
institutions so that they can better serve the people that sustain them. At YouGov, we
leverage our online sampling and research expertise to conduct polls and deliver
insights for political, media, university, nonprofit and marketing organizations. Visit the
YouGov website at http://www.yougov.com/frontpage/home for more information.
About the Center for Biological Diversity
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org