President Donald Trump‘s visit to prototypes of his border wall in California on Tuesday is a down payment on a key campaign promise to his base. New polling suggests Trump voters would also back another controversial pledge the president has yet to fulfill: protecting the so-called Dreamers.
A survey slated for release today by Republican polling firm TargetPoint Consulting found 86 percent of Trump supporters would approve of a deal that increased border security in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Only 10 percent of Trump voters opposed such a compromise.
The poll defined Trump supporters as those who voted for him, approve of his performance and plan to cast a ballot for a Republican in the midterm elections. The survey also showed the president’s base does not consider tying the border wall to DACA to be a deal breaker. Just 3 percent said they would withhold their vote for another GOP presidential candidate in 2020 if Trump supported the compromise.
“When it comes to a deal on Dreamers and the border, if the president leads and puts his shoulder behind it, our research concludes that his base will follow him almost universally,” said Michael Meyers, president of TargetPoint.
The survey, which was provided exclusively to CNBC, was conducted in February with more than 800 Republican and conservative voters in partnership with New American Economy, a group of business leaders and public officials who support a fix for DACA. The margin of error was 3.46 percent.
DACA was supposed to expire March 5, but a court injunction is allowing the program to continue until pending litigation is resolved. That has left businesses and workers in legal limbo as they scramble to figure out their next steps.
Some of America’s biggest companies – including Microsoft, Facebook and Google – have urged Washington to find a solution for the roughly 700,000 affected immigrants, many of whom work in the tech sector. Ovation Corporate Travel CEO Paul Metselaar recently posted an impassioned plea on LinkedIn urging businesses to remain vocal.
“I think that the business community needs to step up and lead because this is something that affects our welfare. It affects our bottom line, and it affects the future of our entire country,” he told CNBC in an interview.
Metselaar said he was inspired to speak out by the experience of one of his own employees, Ilka Eren, who is a DACA recipient. The 25-year-old said she came to the United States from Turkey with her parents when she was 9. Eren kept her undocumented status a secret from friends, classmates and coworkers, even after she qualified for protected status.
“I was embarrassed of my situation,” Eren, who is an executive assistant at Ovation, told CNBC. “It was a heavy weight on my shoulders.”
Eren discussed her status with Metselaar after Trump announced he would wind down the program. Eren said the company has been supportive but the future remains uncertain. If DACA is struck down, she would no longer legally be able to work there.
“We don’t know what the future holds every single day,” she said. “There’s new news and a new tweet … so there’s a lot of anxiety and fear right now.”
The debate over DACA has also divided Republicans on Capitol Hill and strained relations between GOP leadership and the White House. While Trump, at times, has expressed sympathy for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children – at one point promising to pursue “a bill of love” – he rejected proposals that linked enhancing their protections with funding for the border wall.
Instead, Trump insisted that any immigration legislation also limit family sponsorships, which the president refers to as “chain migration,” and overhaul the visa lottery system. The Senate last month failed to pass any version of a deal.
In a tweet earlier this month, Trump laid the blame squarely on Democrats, who oppose a broader deal.
“Democrats are nowhere to be found on DACA,” he wrote. “Gave them 6 months, they just don’t care. Where are they? We are ready to make a deal!”
Democrats argue that it is Trump who backed out. The American Civil Liberties Union is planning protests Tuesday during the president’s visit to San Diego to pressure the White House to abandon the border wall and come up with a fix for DACA recipients. The group is also spending six figures on a 30-second ad on Fox and Friends airing this week.
“Trump, time to show the love,” the ad states.