Criminal justice and immigration are two of the state’s most contentious political issues, but a new survey reveals that there are areas of agreement on both. However, significant gaps were also highlighted in the most recent Texas Trends study by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston and the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. In particular, there were some striking contrasts when looking at replies broken down by ideology, color, and generation.
Nearly half of Black survey respondents replied “no” when asked if they trusted law enforcement in their community. Nearly three-quarters of white people asked the same question gave the affirmative answer. According to Michael O. Adams, professor of political science and public administration and founding director of TSU’s Executive Master of Public Administration Program, conservatives in the study had the highest levels of faith in local police enforcement.
Almost six in ten people (57.2%) said they approved the state’s Damon Allen Act (Texas Senate Bill 6), which imposes new restrictions on issuing bonds. When asked about immigration, most respondents (64.9%) and asylum applicants (64.3%) favored speeding up their court hearings to cut wait periods.
Ideological lines were drawn over whether or not the United States should make it more challenging to qualify for asylum. Those who identified as conservative or highly conservative were more likely to say it should (59.5% vs 69.8%). Self-identified liberals and extreme liberals have opposing opinions (22.5% and 20.2%, respectively).
When we asked if the federal government was doing a good job treating asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border, we saw widespread agreement. Delgerjargal Uvsh, a postdoctoral scholar at the Hobby School, observed that “no” was the most common response across all ideological lines.
Local law enforcement supports 58.6 per cent of respondents who stated they had faith in them during the study. When looking at the data by race, however, we see a different picture emerge: 68.2% of white respondents agreed. Nonetheless, 46.7% of Black people did not share this trust.
Defendants with a history of violent offences, including domestic violence, or who are already released on bail are not eligible for release on personal bond under the new law, known as the Damon Allen Act/Texas Senate Bill 6. The law is named after a state trooper killed in the line of duty. It was passed during a special session of the 87th Texas Legislature and into law on September 17, 2021.
Very conservative respondents (85.9%) and conservative respondents (79.2%) showed the highest levels of support in the study. Additionally, it had a solid showing among liberals (almost 40%) and moderates (55.5%). According to TSU associate professor of politics Carroll Robinson, “just 14.6% of respondents rejected the bill, which was signed into law last month.”
Most survey respondents (52%) thought that increasing financing for law enforcement officers would help reduce crime, while the minority (20%) disagreed. About 56.7 per cent of respondents believed that rejected asylum applicants should be sent back to their home countries immediately.
However, when you examine more closely, you can see differences across the different categories of respondents. About 80% of conservative and very conservative respondents said that illegal immigrants already in the country should be deported immediately if their asylum application is not accepted, and 67% said that illegal immigrants crossing the border to seek asylum should not be allowed to enter the U.S. On the contrary, “at least three-fifths of liberal respondents were opposed to the practice of border patrol sending people back regardless of whether they are appealing for asylum,” said Savannah Sipole, a research associate at the Hobby School.
The race also played a role in the divide in opinions. When asked whether asylum applicants who are denied should be immediately expelled, 65.8% of white respondents said “yes.” The proportion of Hispanics who approve of the practice has decreased to 47.6%.
Check out the publication “Texas Trends 2022 – Criminal Justice and Immigration” for a detailed analysis of these and other topics. The University of Houston and Texas Southern University have worked together on a five-year study of Texans’ attitudes on various issues under Texas Trends. This recent survey is the sixth instalment in that series.
Inflation, school safety, state races on the ballot on Nov. 8, the campaign for Harris County judge, and gun control were covered in prior 2022 reports. In the final article for this year’s Texas Trend series, we’ll look at the state’s physical and mental healthcare facilities.
YouGov surveyed from August 11-29, 2022, among 2,140 adults in Texas to collect data for the “Texas Trends Survey 2022 – Criminal Justice and Immigration.” These respondents were evenly split between whites, blacks, Latinos, and Asians. The margin of error for the bilingual (English and Spanish) poll is +/-2.1.