In his State of the Union speech, President Trump said he was willing to make a deal with Democrats. He'd create a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal aliens who came to the country as children, in exchange for funding for a border wall and a shift toward a skills-based immigration policy.
Democrats flat-out rejected Trump's overture, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling it "an act of staggering cowardice which attempts to hold the Dreamers hostage to a hateful anti-immigrant scheme."
In remarks at the Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center in Virginia on Friday, Trump said that "We want to make a deal. I think they want to use it for political purposes, for elections. I really am not happy with the way it's going from the standpoint of the Democrats negotiating."
But it turns out that it's the Democrats who are on the wrong side of public opinion on the immigration issue, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll.
The poll found that 50% approve of "the construction of physical and electronic barriers along the southern U.S. border" — which is what Trump is actually proposing to build. When you look only at Republicans and Independents, support is 65%. But among Democrats, just 21% back funding for Trump's border wall.
Trump also called for limits on so-called chain migration, in which immigrants can bring in extended family members, and which has accounted for more than 60% of all immigrants coming into the U.S. over the past 35 years.
Instead, Trump wants to refocus immigration policy toward those with education and skills needed in the country.
Overall, 55% back "limiting immigration based on family ties in favor of an immigration system that prioritizes the skills and education background of potential immigrants," the IBD/TIPP poll found. Combined, Republicans' and independents' support is at 60%. But fewer than half of Democrats (48%) say they back this change.
The only area where Democrats are in sync with the general public is on the question of granting legal status to immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.
Overall, 71% back this plan. Among Democrats, support is 86%. But a majority of Republicans (55%) also back this proposal, as do 69% of independents.
President Obama signed the so-called DACA executive order in 2012 allowing hundreds of thousands of them to stay in the country. Trump, arguing that Obama did not have the Constitutional authority to unilaterally change the country's immigration policies, rescinded that order last fall. He gave Congress until March to pass a bill authorizing such a policy. Trump's latest proposal would go much farther, and affect more illegal immigrants, than what Obama had done by executive fiat.
The IBD/TIPP results on immigration are in line with those from a recent Harvard-Harris poll, which found that 79% support skills-based criteria for new immigrants, 68% support Trump's call to end the "diversity" lottery, and 54% back building a border wall.
But with Democrats having staked out an extreme and uncompromising position, it's unclear how, or whether, the DACA issue will be resolved.
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