Poll: Slim majority supports deportation raids

By Caitlin Oprysko

A slim majority of voters supports the mass deportation raids previewed by President Donald Trump last week, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows.

The survey found that 51 percent of voters supported the sweeping raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, compared with 35 percent of voters who oppose those efforts.

Around two-thirds of voters said they’d heard about the ICE raids, which had already been delayed once amid internal resistance and word of their timing having leaked and were set to begin Sunday in nearly a dozen cities across the country.

The president warned of the raids last week, saying his administration was planning to remove thousands of immigrants with court orders for removal, but would prioritize removing violent criminals. The threat prompted undocumented immigrants to hunker down in fear and spurred protests from activists across the country.

Despite reports of more routine, smaller removal operations over the weekend, according to multiple media reports and immigration advocacy groups, there was no sign of the wide-scale blitz Trump warned of.

At the White House on Monday, however, Trump insisted that ICE officers had successfully carried out a slew of deportation orders. A day later, an ICE official told CNN that there had not been "any surge of arrests or activity or round-ups" of undocumented immigrants.

But Wednesday’s poll suggests that touting the raids is a boon to the president whether they actually take place or not.

Support for the kind of nationwide enforcement that Trump warned of was driven mostly by members of his own party — 85 percent of Republicans say they are in favor of the raids versus 29 percent of Democrats.

“Keeping immigration in the headlines helps President Trump with his base in the run-up to the 2020 election,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s Vice President. "Security issues track as the No. 1 issue when Republican voters head to the polls.”

Amid a spike of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this year, public sentiment has not shifted much, in that a plurality of voters still believes the country is facing a “crisis” of illegal immigration versus those that believe illegal immigration is a “problem.”

Wednesday's poll found that 45 percent of voters believe the issue to be a crisis, up from 44 percent in April and 42 percent in January. About a third of voters say illegal immigration is a problem, down from 37 percent in January.

Republicans are more likely to believe it a crisis (76 percent) while Democrats are more likely to call illegal immigration a problem (44 percent), though the share of Democrats who say illegal immigration is a problem has dropped 8 points from January.

Regardless of how voters felt about illegal immigration, six in 10 voters said that they felt immigrants who were in the U.S. legally make the country stronger, versus a quarter of voters who said they felt legal immigration is a burden. Support is more widespread among Democratic voters, but Republican voters were split, 46 percent to 42 percent, in their favorable opinion of legal immigration.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted online from July 12-14 among a national sample of 1,984 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.