By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Only a third of Americans — including half Republicans and one in six Democrats — say it’s okay for state officials to fly or bus migrants to other states, a sign that the pressure from the Republican southern governors sending foreigners north could backfire with some voters, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Republican leaders, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential nominee, are betting that their immigration policies and proposals will help motivate their core supporters to vote in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when they seek to regain control of the U.S. Congress. .
The two-day poll concluded on Thursday found that Americans are deeply divided on immigration, even within their political parties.
Only about half of Democratic respondents agreed with a statement that it should be easier for people to immigrate to the United States. A slightly larger proportion of Republicans — six in ten — disagreed.
After a widely publicized effort by Republican governors to bus or fly thousands of migrants to Democratic territories in recent months, 53% of Republican respondents in the poll said they supported the practice. Twenty-nine percent were against.
Sixteen percent of Democrats supported the practice and 55% opposed it. Overall, 29% of Americans supported the practice and 40% opposed it.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who will be re-elected in November, has sent about 11,500 migrants to Washington, New York and Chicago since April. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, another Republican, has sent more than 1,800 to Washington.
Last week, DeSantis was given credit for a flight carrying about 50 migrants to the vacation island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, an affluent liberal retreat where former President Barack Obama has a mansion.
Like Abbott, DeSantis is up for re-election in November.
The governors’ moves are designed to shift responsibility for border crossings to areas that typically vote Democratic, while demonstrating Republican opposition to Democratic President Joe Biden’s more hospitable border policies.
But leading Democrats, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, said some of the state’s measures to transport migrants north could be criminal and urged federal prosecutors to investigate.
Migrants fleeing to Martha’s Vineyard said they had been misled and a Texas sheriff, where the flight came from, is investigating the incident.
Forty-five percent of respondents to the Reuters/Ipsos survey — including 63% of Democrats and 31% of Republicans — said state leaders who transport migrants were engaged in illegal migrant trafficking.
The poll, conducted online in English in the United States, gathered responses from 1,005 adults, including 449 Democrats and 361 Republicans. It has a credibility interval – a measure of precision – of four percentage points.
(Reporting by Jason Lange, additional reporting by Ted Hesson; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)