Residents of US-Mexico border feel strong sense of community, don't want wall

Posted July 25, 2016

People living in the areas between the United States and Mexico do not generally favor building a wall between the two nations, according to a poll by Cronkite News, The Dallas Morning News and Univision. (Deseret Photo)

People living in the areas between the United States and Mexico do not generally favor building a wall between the two nations, according to a poll by Cronkite News, The Dallas Morning News and Univision.

The poll, released last week, is the first of its kind in 15 years and shows a communal attitude and numerous similarities among those living in the borderlands. Its answers are based on the responses of 1,427 people living in 14 border cities in Mexico and the U.S.

A majority of people living on both sides of the border — 86 percent in Mexico and 72 percent in the U.S. side — said they oppose building a wall. According to respondents, border residents will travel back and forth to sister cities for shopping, family visits, school and work.

Calai Hernandez, from Texas, frequently crosses the border, and she said going from her town of Eagle Pass, Texas, to Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, "like going to a friend's house."

Hernandez is one of many, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. According to BTS, nearly 270 million people crossed the U.S.-Mexico border by truck, bus, train, personal vehicle or foot in 2015.

The poll found many people living along the border actually wish for easier ways to commute back and forth across the border. Eighty-eight percent of those in Mexico said they want to ease entry requirements and to shorten wait times, compared with 77 percent of those polled in the U.S.

The current political climate, however, has stirred negative commentary regarding immigration and access to crossing borders. Sixty-nine percent of those polled in Mexico and 59 percent of people in the U.S. said they consider the current presidential campaign and its rhetoric to be damaging to the border region.

"I think when people think about the border … it's probably all the violence and insecurity," Daisy Garcia, a 32-year-old San Diego resident told Cronkite News. "I think there's a negative connotation to 'the border,' when in reality, I don't think it's that bad."

But despite those negative conversations regarding the border, the survey found that many people in both countries tend to consider themselves to be one large community.

When asked how they felt about their neighbors across the border, 79 percent of Mexican residents and 86 percent of Americans said they like each other.

Furthermore, 69 percent of Mexican border residents and 79 percent of U.S. residents said their city depends "either somewhat or very much on their sister city across the border."

The poll did, however, find some disparities in how the different sides of the border feel about security. Seventy-six percent of people polled in Mexico said they do not trust their law officials, while 82 percent of U.S. citizens said they do trust their officials.

And while the different sides of the border varied slightly in what they consider to be primary concerns in their cities, respondents agreed that the main three concerns are crime and drugs; the economy and job availability; and education.

The poll also found that both sides of the border are split on efforts to legalize marijuana — 51 percent in Mexico and 54 percent in the U.S. oppose it.

The poll was conducted by Baselice & Associates, Inc., who did a similar poll in 2001 before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in May. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points and was conducted over the phone and in-person using Spanish and English. Cronkite News reporters traveled to several cities across the border after the poll’s findings were released to gather reactions.

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  • Edward Tilley Jul 25, 2016
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    Isn't this kind of like saying "bank robbers don't want cameras in banks"?

  • Sean Creasy Jul 25, 2016
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    I wonder how many people were polled that were of other than Hispanic decent? Judging by the percentages and people interviewed it seems that this story is substantially biased in one certain direction...

  • Jim Williams Jul 25, 2016
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    The US border towns are almost 100% Hispanic, of course they do not want the wall. A majority of US Hispanics do not want the wall, as a majority of card carrying Democrats do not. Hispanics see it as a way to increase their % within the population, and Democrats view it as a "de facto," voter registration drive. Once again a news story generated with half the facts.