ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Residents along the U.S.-Mexico border are feeling ignored in the midst of a U.S. presidential election in which immigration, border security and a proposed wall are being hotly debated, a poll released Monday suggests.
A Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News border poll found a majority of urban residents surveyed on both sides of the border are against the building of a wall between the two countries and believe the campaign’s tone is damaging relations.
Residents feel Democrats and Republicans are ignoring their concerns and aren’t proposing solutions to help their economies or combat drug trafficking and human smuggling, journalists who gathered reaction to the poll found.
According to the poll, 86 percent of border residents in Mexico and 72 percent of those questioned in the U.S. were against building a wall.
The economy/jobs and crime/drugs tied at 37 percent each for the most important issue for border residents, the poll found.
The poll surveyed 1,427 residents in 14 border sister cities to assess attitudes and opinions on the local economy, immigration and border security. It was conducted in April and May.
The majority of interviews were done in Spanish on both sides of the border, and the margin of error was 2.6 percent.
Michael Baselice, president and CEO of Baselice & Associates Inc., the Texas-based public research opinion firm that conducted the survey, said he didn’t believe the predominance of Spanish speakers who participated in the survey skewed the results. He said around the same percentage of Spanish speakers were surveyed in a similar border poll in 2001.
Baselice said residents on the U.S. sides were randomly chosen and surveyed by telephone. Residents in Mexico were randomly selected from targeted neighborhoods in certain cities and surveyed face-to-face, he said.
Among the questions asked: “Should the U.S. build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. in an effort to secure the border?” And “Please describe in your own words the three most important issues or problems facing you and your family.”
The survey comes as Donald Trump prepares to accept the GOP presidential nomination. While earning praise from some conservatives, Trump has drawn scrutiny from immigration activists and others for promising to build a wall and deport immigrants who are in the country illegally.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican and the nation’s only Latina governor, has denounced Trump for some of his comments about Mexican immigrants and said she strongly opposes a wall.
The two-term governor has worked for years with her counterparts south of the border to build an international economic hub in the region. A border wall would hurt trade and not get to the root causes of illegal immigration and drug trafficking, she has said.
Many residents expressed concerns over security but want to be better connected to the other side of the border, said Alfredo Corchado, a former Dallas Morning News Mexico City bureau chief who now serves as an editor on the Borderlands desk at Cronkite News.
“And walls are not going to do that,” Corchado said.
Angela Kocherga, director of the Borderlands Bureau of Cronkite News, said the residents surveyed already live in areas with border fences.
“(The wall) is too simplistic a solution,” she said. “They aren’t asking for open borders, but they are asking for real solutions, real thoughtful approaches to the issues along the border.”
The survey included seven pairs of sister cities along the border, from California/Baja California to Arizona/Sonora and Texas/Tamaulipas.