How Americans rate the performance of U.S. agencies handling immigration

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
August 02, 2023, 7:27 PM GMT+0

New polling from The Economist and YouGov finds that Americans generally are dissatisfied with how immigration agencies are doing their jobs, though they express approval of at least some of the immigration actions — and those managing them — in Texas.

Though Americans are closely divided between approval and disapproval of Texas Governor Greg Abbott's handling of immigration (37% strongly or somewhat approve, 34% strongly or somewhat disapprove), 54% strongly or somewhat approve of his attempt to deter illegal border crossings by placing floating buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande River, the body of water that separates Texas and Mexico. Republicans (87%) are far more likely than Democrats (30%) or Independents (48%) to approve of the barriers.

While a large share of Americans approve of Abbott's actions, more Americans would prefer the federal government rather than individual states to police the border (56% vs. 25%).

How do Americans rate certain agencies' handling of immigration? More believe the Texas Rangers do a good job than a bad job meeting their mission to “deter, detect, and interdict criminal activity" along the border. Other agencies that deal with illegal immigration — U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of Justice — get mixed or negative evaluations by Americans of their success in meeting their missions, which were summarized for respondents based on quotes from each agency's mission statement.

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on July 29 - August 1, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (John Moore)