Immigration is at the forefront of political discourse in Texas according to the Texas Lyceum Poll, an independent opinion poll that is conducted each year to gather the opinions of Texans on major policy issues facing the state.
Daron Shaw, a professor of government at The University of Texas and one of two coordinators of the Lyceum Poll, says that immigration and border security have been key issues for Texans since the first poll in 2007.
“For a couple of years, the economy and jobs were one of the top two issues,” Shaw says. “But even then, during the collapse of the American financial system, border security and immigration at the state level was on par with the economy and jobs.”
This year, however, was the first in which the poll was primarily devoted to the topic of immigration. Questions ranged from inquiries about immigration in general to illegal immigration specifically, and to President Donald Trump’s border wall proposal.
When asked if immigration in general helps the U.S. more than it harms it, 63 percent of respondents said yes. Shaw says that responses to this question varied more by age groups than political leanings, with older respondents being more skeptical of the value of immigration than younger ones.
Texans who worried more about illegal immigration had a variety of concerns.
Nineteen percent of respondents who worried about illegal immigration cited crime and safety as the primary concern while 16 percent believed illegal immigration causes a strain on the economy and job market. Thirteen percent cited a lack of regard for immigration rules as most worrisome.
When asked what actions would quell their fears about illegal immigration, however, many Texans said they do not believe a border wall is the solution.
“Texans are skeptical of the wall, they have always been skeptical,” Shaw says. “They don’t necessarily think it’s a great idea for a variety of different reasons and they don’t think it’s probably a practical matter.”
Written by Emma Whalen.