Poll: Immigration debate deeply divides California Democrats

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Poll: Immigration debate deeply divides California Democrats

Immigration and the Border, California Politics, 2024 Elections

Alexandra E. Petri

January 17, 2024

Immigration and border security issues unite Republican voters


division among Democratic voters in California, a


a statewide poll has been found.

The findings of the new survey from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, illustrate some of the political difficulties President Biden faces in dealing with the large number of unauthorized migrants crossing the U.S. southern border .

Even in California, a Democratic stronghold, 62% to 30% of registered voters say U.S. borders are not secure to prevent people from entering the country illegally, the poll found. The majority who say the border is not secure is even larger among likely voters.

Voters who support

former president

Trump is or identifies as a conservative as Republicans almost unanimously say the border is not secure. Of strongly conservative voters, 88% say

the limit is that they are

not safe,

versus compared to regular

8% who say so

That’s true. The border is safe.

Democrats, liberals and voters who support Biden are more evenly divided. Among California voters who identify as strongly liberal,

For example,

54% say the border is secure;


30% say no.

Democrats were also divided over whether illegal immigrants are a burden on the country. A total of 42% of registered voters

say said


are creating

a ‘great burden’


30% say yes

his creation

a ‘little burden’,

while and 22


say said

they are not a burden, the poll showed.

The findings show that immigration is not clear even in California, where its reputation as a haven often colors discussion on the issue, said G. Cristina Mora,


co-director of the Institute of Governmental Studies.


distribute among the survey results that show how the issue divides the population

Democrats could signal trouble for Biden on the 2024 campaign trail, but more


in states other than California, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the

Berkley IGS

poll. The chance of one [Republican] Carrying the state takes a very long time, he said.

In California, this effect is more likely to manifest itself in competitive congressional elections, which could help determine the majority in the House of Representatives. These include the race for the seat of Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), who is running for U.S. Senate, and competitive districts in northern Los Angeles County and the Central Valley. Republican candidates in those districts could center immigration issues as part of their platform


DiCamillo said.

“This issue could play to Republicans’ advantage,” he said

noticed. said.

As the number of unauthorized immigrants crossing the border has increased, Biden has come under fire from Republicans who rejected his border policies.


weak, but also from some fellow Democrats.

Democratic mayors of

big cities, e.g

New York and Chicago,

including major cities,

have said

their city

The services have been burdened by a steady flow of migrants and have criticized the federal government for its handling of the issue.

In Congress, Republicans have been pushing for Biden to agree to major changes in immigration policy, especially regarding the legal right to immigration

migrant people

seeking asylum in the US In the Senate, Republicans have pushed for a border deal as the price for their vote to send additional aid to Ukraine, a high priority for Biden.

Unauthorized migration across the U.S. southern border reached record budget levels


2023, which


in September, surpassing the 2 million mark for the second year in a row.

Many of the migrants arriving at the southern border are seeking asylum and alleging persecution in their home countries. But the problem doesn’t stop at the border: Thousands of daily arrivals have overwhelmed an aging immigration system and created a backlog of asylum cases. Asylum seekers who are released into the U.S. and given a court date wait years, if not a decade, before they can appear before a judge.

Biden has signaled a willingness to accept at least some of the Republican demands, which has angered some Democrats and immigration advocates.

Reaching an agreement remains an uphill battle, however, and the poll shows how the issue is consolidating the Republican voting bloc while dividing Democrats.

Voters are divided over their view of the country’s asylum laws, the poll shows. Republican voters, conservatives and voters

who supportsupport

Trump agrees


laws are too lenient.


In the meantime,

have been split

in how they view existing law

: 17% say the law is too lenient, 29% say it is about right, and 33% say it is too restrictive.

However, among those who identify as strongly liberal, a

majority, 56%,

however, of those who identify as strongly liberal,

say that is the law


too restrictive, and

just now

6% call it too mild, while 24% say it’s about right.

View of the




do not vary much across race or ethnicity, the poll found.

The poll also found widespread skepticism about whether new laws would be effective in reducing the number of migrants arriving at the border: 45% of voters think new laws would be effective; 42% say they wouldn’t. Liberal voters are much more likely than conservatives to say that new laws would be ineffective.



are more likely than native voters to say new laws would have an impact: 53% of California voters born in another country say

them new laws

would be effective, while 32% say this would not be the case. Native voters

are equally distributed

to that question.

A Berkeley IGS survey was conducted


January 4-8


from a random sample of 8,199 registered voters in California, including a weighted subsample of 4,470 voters likely to participate in the March 5 primary election.

The results are weighted to match census and voter registration benchmarks, so margin of error estimates may be inaccurate.

; However,

The results have an estimated margin of error of 1.5 percentage points in either direction for the full sample.


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