Poll: Voters evenly split on using tariffs to bring about immigration changes


President Trump’s recent threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods as a way to pressure the country to crack down the flow of migrants to the U.S. was met with equal amounts of support and opposition among American voters, according to a new poll.

In a Hill-HarrisX survey released Monday, 40 percent of registered voters said they supported the idea of using tariffs as a negotiating tactic toward getting Mexico to reduce the number of Central American migrants passing through its country to the U.S. Another 40 percent rejected the tactic, while 20 percent said they were unsure.

On Friday, Trump backed off his threat, saying Mexico had agreed to take steps that will decrease the flow of migrants to the U.S., including deploying a military unit at its border to turn back some groups. The U.S. was slated to impose tariffs on Monday if no deal had been reached.

The survey found that 69 percent of GOP respondents favored the president’s approach, and only 13 percent opposed it. Seventeen percent were unsure.

Among Democratic voters, 62 percent said they opposed using tariff threats, while 22 percent were in support. Seventeen percent said they weren’t sure either way.

Independent voters were more likely to oppose Trump’s tactic than to support it, although many said they were undecided. Forty-one percent said in that group rejected tariffs on Mexico to spur immigration changes, while 34 percent supported them. A quarter were unsure.

The survey found more support for tariffs among respondents living in households with income exceeding $75,000 a year, with 44 percent of this group favoring the idea and 39 percent against it. Seventeen percent were unsure.

Respondents with less than $75,000 a year were essentially split on the issue with 37 percent favoring tariffs on Mexico and 40 percent opposing them. Twenty-two percent were unsure.

Across age groups, support and opposition were about the same, except for among voters 34 and younger, where a plurality of 42 percent rejected Trump’s tariff tactic and 32 percent supported it.

In a series of Sunday tweets, Trump denounced a report from the New York Times that said many of the measures Mexico had agreed to take were under negotiation before the president’s tariff threat. He also said that that the U.S. might decide to levy tariffs at a future point if the White House is unsatisfied with Mexico’s cooperation on immigration.

The Hill-HarrisX survey was taken June 7-8 among a panel of 1,001 registered voters with a 95 percent confidence level and a 3.1 percent sampling margin of error.

—Matthew Sheffield


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