WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- More than six-in-10 Americans oppose the idea of building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexican border to stop illegal immigration, according to the Pew Research Center.
Pew's latest study found 61 percent of Americans oppose the border wall, while 36 percent said they support it. While registered Republicans are twice as likely to support the wall as not, a significant number -- 34 percent -- said they oppose a border wall. Among self-identified Donald Trump supporters, 79 percent approve building the wall.
One of Trump's first policy proposals as a Republican candidate for president was to suggest building a wall along the Mexican border. He said he would build a wall along 1,000 miles of the border -- not the entire 2,000-mile border as specified by the poll -- because natural barriers prevent crossings on the other half of the border.
The poll was completed in advance of Trump's statements over the past week, suggesting he is willing to soften an immigration stance that has been met with considerable skepticism among independents and minorities who factor much more significantly into the general election than a Republican primary.
Among Hispanic and black voters, Pew reports 76 percent of each group opposes building the wall.
The survey also shows relatively equal support for what should be the government's priority in addressing the illegal immigration issue. Twenty-nine percent said the government should focus on creating a pathway to citizenship for those already in the country illegally; 24 percent said the government should focus on securing the border to stop more people from entering the country illegally. A plurality, 45 percent, said both those goals should be pursued equally.
Americans in general hold largely sympathetic views of undocumented immigrants in the labor force. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed said undocumented immigrants are at least as hardworking as Americans; 71 percent said undocumented workers take jobs Americans don't want.
When it comes to crime, however, Americans are evenly split: 50 percent of those surveyed said undocumented immigrants are more likely than a U.S. citizen to commit a crime.
The Pew survey was conducted via landlines and cellphones from Aug. 9-16, surveying 2,010 adults nationwide with an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.