Poll: Over 40% of New Yorkers Support Southern Border Wall

By Matis Glenn

Then-President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in San Luis, Ariz., June 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

A new poll indicates that a surprising amount of New Yorkers support building a wall across the U.S. southern border to control illegal immigration, as the state grapples with the influx of migrants from South America.

The poll, released by Siena College, found that 41% of New Yorkers support building the wall, a controversial mainstay of former President Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns which drew heavy backlash from progressives. Construction of the wall began in 2018, and covered 455 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, but was halted when President Joe Biden took office in 2021.

New York has been a reliably Democrat dominated state for decades both on state legislative and federal levels, though Republican Lee Zeldin, a former congressional Representative, lost to Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2022 by only 5.6 points.

In 2020, Biden, a Democrat, handily carried New York, defeating Trump, a Republican, by 23 points.

But even in deep-blue New York City, home to millions of immigrants, 38% of respondents were in favor of the wall. Thirty-eight percent of Hispanic people surveyed supported the wall, too.

The poll’s findings underscore the state’s struggles with handling the influx of over 110,000 migrants from South America over the past year, which New York City Mayor Eric Adams has described as a crisis and a “financial tsunami” which could potentially “destroy” the city. Adams predicts that over the next three years, addressing the migrant issue will cost the city $12 billion. Adams has repeatedly petitioned Washington for financial assistance, as the city continues to have difficulties in housing the migrants, who are unable to legally work when they first arrive.

There were also marked differences between Republican and Democrat respondents. “When it comes to migrants and issues associated with immigration, there is a huge partisan divide,” Levy said. “A majority of Republicans oppose a comprehensive immigration bill and a huge majority, 77-19%, call for building ‘The Wall.’ Democrats strongly support[the immigration bill], and over half of independents want the legislation, and while two-thirds of Democrats oppose building a wall, independents are evenly divided.”

A significant number of New Yorkers statewide harbor negative opinions about the migrants, according to the poll. Over a third of those asked agreed with the statement “immigrants take jobs away from Americans that lived here for many years,” with 60% disagreeing. When asked if many migrants “want free hand-outs…and do not want to work,” 35% agreed while 61% disagreed.

Regarding safety, around a third of respondents believe that the migrants are dangerous, and that they are a source of illegal drugs. Over 40% said that the migrants take more than they offer society.

Still, most New Yorkers view the migrants favorably. “Despite concerns that some New Yorkers have about the recent influx of migrants, 84% of all New Yorkers agree that most of the current migrants want only to build a better life for themselves and their [families], and 69% agree that America should continue to live by the words written on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, your poor…send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me’,” Don Levy, Director of Siena College Research Institute said in a statement. “There’s no doubt, the vast majority of New Yorkers recognize that our country was built by immigrants from virtually every nation around the globe, and assimilating immigrants has made America great.”

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