Texans, by a wide margin, favor President Donald Trump’s decision to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday concludes. According to the poll, 60 percent of Texas voters support the deployment, while 37 percent are not in favor.
The breakdown differs along racial and ethnic lines. Hispanic voters who responded to the poll are divided, with 51 percent voting in favor of the deployment and 48 percent against. Black voters are overwhelmingly against it, voting 59 percent to 38 percent, while white voters overwhelmingly support it, voting 68 percent to 28 percent. Interestingly, the very same poll shows most Texas voters oppose a wall being built on the border, with 53 percent expressing opposition to it and 43 percent in favor, displaying the complexity of immigration and border security issues across the state. The poll has a margin of error of 3.6 percent.
“Texas voters think immigration is the most important issue to their U.S. Senate vote, but their views don’t fit exactly in either party’s corner,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said in a news release. “They agree with Democrats in their opposition to President Donald Trump’s wall. But, by a wide margin, they support the Republican president’s plan to send the National Guard to that border to stop illegal immigration.”
It remains unclear how effective the national guard will be in curbing undocumented immigration and trafficking. Operation Jump Start under President George W. Bush ran from 2006-2008 at a cost of $1.2 billion to American taxpayers, and the National Guard troops helped federal Border Patrol agents apprehend more than 176,000 undocumented immigrants and led to the seizure of more than 331,000 pounds of illegal drugs. Governor Rick Perry deployed 1,000 National Guard troops to the border in 2014 at a cost of $12 million a month to Texas taxpayers, and they mostly watched the Rio Grande while fighting boredom.
The poll comes after a particularly busy few weeks along the border. Governor Greg Abbott accepted Trump’s request to deploy the National Guard, and has committed to send at least 1,400 troops. As of Thursday, hundreds of them have already arrived, in groups of 300. In late March, Congress passed an omnibus budget bill that allocated $1.3 billion toward the construction of a border wall, and the groundbreaking has already begun along the California-Mexico border, as well as in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, near El Paso.
The spending bill included a small victory for those who oppose the wall, as it specifically protected a stretch of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, which early plans had shown to be in the path of the wall. “None of the funds provided in this or any other Act shall be obligated for construction of a border barrier in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge,” the bill states. The refuge is one of the nation’s top bird-watching sites and home to more than 400 types of birds and endangered species. Immigrant activists, environmentalists and members of the border community had been fighting hard to protect it from a potential wall.
The win will likely galvanize those activists, who remain opposed to the wall and continue to fight for the many border communities and landmarks it’s construction will threaten, including the National Butterfly Center in Mission, the Bentsen Rio Grande State Park and World Birding Center and the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Santa Rosa, and the historic La Lomita Chapel in Mission.
The poll surveyed 1,029 Texas voters through live interviews on cellphones and on landlines between April 12 and April 17.