Growing Latino support for border wall, strict enforcement

by Byron York

A new poll by Axios and Noticias Telemundo finds that 42% of Latino Americans support building a wall or fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. When pollsters asked the same question in December 2021, the number was 30%. That’s a significant increase as the border crisis created by President Joe Biden’s policies worsens.

It’s also a more severe action than virtually anyone is now proposing. The border is about 2,000 miles long, but some of that is physically impassable and does not need a wall. Former President Donald Trump proposed building a wall on about 1,000 miles. That was enough for many Democrats to unite in hysterical opposition. Now, the Latino voters polled say they would like to see a wall or fence along the entire 2,000-mile border.

The new poll also finds that 64% of those surveyed support “giving the president the authority to shut U.S. borders if there are too many migrants trying to enter the country.” And 38% of those surveyed support “sending all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. back to their country of origin.” In 2021, that number was 28%.

In all, the poll marks a real shift in the direction of stricter border enforcement. It’s a significant change. One explanation for the change is that the context in which Latino voters consider the question has changed, too. At various times in the past, the majority of illegal border crossers came from Mexico or Central America, especially the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Now, with Biden’s virtually open border, the situation is much different. People are coming from all over the world, in large numbers, to cross illegally into the United States.

On Feb. 22, Fox News’ Bill Melugin posted on X, “Internal [Border Patrol] data we’ve obtained reveals more Chinese nationals have crossed illegally into Border Patrol’s San Diego sector in recent months than Mexican nationals.” Melugin published the top 10 nationalities apprehended in the San Diego sector since Oct. 1, 2023. Four of them were not from Mexico, Central America or South America — China, Turkey, Guinea and India. In the period Melugin listed, 28,000 people from Colombia crossed illegally into the United States, while 21,000 came from China, 6,100 from Turkey, 5,000 from Guinea and 5,000 from India.

Given that, if the point of polling Latino voters is to gauge their views on people coming illegally to the United States from Latin American countries — that’s not the way things work today. These days, illegal crossers are entering the U.S. from everywhere. Perhaps that is contributing to the changing views of Latino Americans toward border security.

In any event, Latino Americans are an important voting bloc, and in the 2024 presidential election, it appears they are moving more toward Trump than Biden.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Trump among Hispanic voters by a whopping 38 points, 66% to 28%. In the 2020 election, Biden beat Trump among that group by 21 points, 59% to 38%. Now, a New York Times-Siena poll in March found Trump leading Biden by 6 points, 46% to 40%. That’s a huge change in eight years.

Of course, the first two examples are actual election results, while at this point in the 2024 race we’re relying on polls that might not be accurate and, in any event, might change before the election. But there have been many, many surveys suggesting movement of Latino voters away from Biden and toward Trump. Shifting Latino views on border security are part of that, but remember that the top issue for Latino voters, as it is for everyone else, is the economy and inflation. Put it all together, and it appears falling Latino support will be a major problem for Biden’s reelection effort.

Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.