Texans have mixed feelings about border wall — and about President Trump, new poll shows

Texas voters are divided on whether President Donald Trump’s long-promised wall should be built at the border between the United States and Mexico.

They are split 48-48 on whether the wall should be built, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Republicans, men and older Texans tend to support the construction while Democrats, women and younger Texans don’t.

“Texas is the state most directly impacted by the border wall controversy because of its long border with Mexico,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “Its generally conservative nature and stronger support for President Donald Trump makes these numbers especially relevant.”

At the same time, Texans appear to be divided on how the president is doing in the White House, with 50 percent disapproving and 47 percent approving, the poll showed.

“President Trump’s 47 – 50 percent job approval in Texas is not great, but it’s better than Quinnipiac University finds in nationwide polls,” Brown said.

All this comes as the border wall continues to capture headlines across the country.

A dispute over whether to fund the wall led to a 35-day partial federal government shutdown, as Trump pushed for billions of dollars to put in place physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president, who received a small portion of what he sought for border security, recently declared a national emergency to lock in billions of dollars Congress wouldn’t allocate for his border wall.

Sixty percent of Texans say they disapprove of Trump using emergency powers to fund a wall. And 52 percent say undocumented immigrants crossing the border is not a national emergency, the poll shows.

Critics have filed lawsuits, including one by 16 states that did not include Texas, challenging the president’s move, which shifts money dedicated for other purposes to build the wall.

Trump’s desire for the wall dates to his 2016 presidential campaign, when he and supporters chanted “Build That Wall.” When asked who would pay for it, Trump’s response was Mexico.

More than half of Texas voters polled say a border wall won’t “significantly decrease violent crime in the U.S.” or “significantly decrease the amount of illegal drugs” in the country.

And more than 60 percent oppose the federal government taking private property to build the wall, the poll shows.

In Texas, state Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, has filed a bill to determine what environmental impacts such a wall could bring to the southern part of the state. Between environmental concerns and property rights, Gutierrez said state lawmakers should take this chance to stand up for Texas property owners.

“We have a chance to be the first state Legislature to stand up to the federal government’s unprecedented land grab and we should take it,” he has said.

Texas voters by a 71-24 percent margin also support letting “Dreamers” stay in this country and apply for citizenship.

Other results

The Quinnipiac poll also asked Texas voters about other issues. Those results show:

More than 80 percent of Texas voters support a multi-billion boost in school funding in Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott draws a 58-28 job approval rating.

At the same time, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz draws a 51-40 percent approval rating and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn pulls in a 43-26 percent approval rating.

The poll, which reached out to 1,222 Texas voters between Feb. 20-25, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Interviews were conducted on cellphones and landlines.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.