Survey: 46% of Voters Support Tariffs to Force Mexico to Get Tougher on Illegal Immigration, Drugs

Patrick Goodenough | June 6, 2019 | 4:28am EDT
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Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard speaks at the Mexican Embassy after Wednesday’s immigration talks at the White House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( – Six in ten likely U.S. voters believe Mexico has not been aggressive enough in stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States, almost seven in ten feel the same way when it comes to illegal drugs – and almost half favor the use of tariffs to compel Mexico to get tougher on both.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey found that 46 percent of likely voters support the leveraging of tariffs for this purpose – as President Trump is proposing to do – while 40 percent oppose the strategy, and 14 percent of respondents are undecided.

The survey found 60 percent support for the view that the Mexican government has not “been aggressive enough in stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States,” and 68 percent support for the view that it has not “been aggressive enough in stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.”

The findings come at a time when Republican senators are reported to be leery about the president’s strategy of wielding tariffs in an international dispute unrelated to trade.

“There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that’s for sure,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday, after two Trump administration officials laid out Trump’s position for lawmakers over lunch.

Trump says the U.S. will impose five percent tariffs on all goods from Mexico, beginning June 10, and then raise that by five percent each month from July 1 to a maximum of 25 percent by October, where it will remain unless the Mexican government takes effective steps “to dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of illegal aliens crossing its territory into the United States.”

A Mexican delegation led by Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard held talks on immigration with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the White House on Wednesday, and more were expected on Thursday.

After the first day’s talks, Trump – who was in Ireland Wednesday night and is in Normandy, France on Thursday – tweeted, “Progress is being made, but not nearly enough!”

“Border arrests for May are at 133,000 because of Mexico & the Democrats in Congress refusing to budge on immigration reform,” he said.

Trump said the talks will resume on Thursday, “with the understanding that, if no agreement is reached, Tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule. The higher the Tariffs go, the higher the number of companies that will move back to the USA!”

White House trade advisor Peter Navarro answers questions last Friday about President Trump’s Mexico tariff plans. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Before Wednesday’s meetings, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told CNN Mexico could still avoid the tariffs altogether if it took certain steps, including committing to take all asylum seekers, and deploying more resources to its southern border with Guatemala – where U.S.-bound migrants from Central America cross over en route north.

Speaking at the Mexican Embassy after the talks, Ebrard told reporters the discussions focused on what Mexico is doing or proposing to the U.S. to do about migrant flows and about the Central America situation.

Earlier, Ebrard’s ministry said the Mexican government “has faith in dialogue as a means to avoid a costly and unnecessary confrontation,” but was at the same time “analyzing potential reprisals in response to the tariffs.”

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol stopped 132,887 immigrants while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally during May. Enforcement actions two-thirds of the way through the fiscal year stood at 676,315 – up 99 percent over last year at the same time.

The Rasmussen national survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters was conducted on Monday and Tuesday this week. The firm reports a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points, with a 95 percent level of confidence.

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