Immigrant status, border security equally important, poll finds

A new Gallup Poll shows that fewer people today see border security as important to deal with illegal immigration, and more believe that the U.S. must deal with immigrants already inside the U.S.

In the past, more people believed that border security was the more important issue to address. The shift has occurred over the last year, although that view has been trending since 2011. 

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Both issues are now seen about equally as important, at 43 percent who favor border security and 44 percent who favor a plan to deal with existing illegal immigrants, said the poll, which was conducted between Feb. 6-9. 

The shift is mostly due to fewer Republicans and Democrats favoring border security as a way to deal with illegal immigration, and a small uptick, 4 percent, in Democrats favoring a plan to deal with existing immigrants. 

These results do not give government leaders much guidance as to which issue to resolve first if a piecemeal approach is used for immigration reform, a Gallup analysis said. 

The gap between those who favor the different approaches is “small,” said the analysis, suggesting “this is not an overwhelming preference, and that a strategy that attempts to deal with both issues may be preferable.” 

President Obama has made immigration reform a top priority this year, but no major reform is expected to happen during an election year.

On Friday, speaking with House Democrats, he called for a “smart immigration policy in this country that grows our economy [and] gets people out of the shadows.” 

“That’s got to be a top priority.  We’re going to have to keep on working on that,” he said.