Where are the feds when you need them? An increasing majority of voters believes gaining control of the border is the most important immigration reform needed, but they still think the federal government encourages illegal immigration instead.


A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters finds that 60 percent think gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States. This is up slightly from 58 percent in May but is the highest level of support for border control in over two years. Thirty-three percent believe it’s more important to legalize those already living here, but that’s at a two-year low.


However, 56 percent think the policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally, the highest level of cynicism since June 2012. Twenty-seven percent disagree, while 17 percent are undecided.


Still, 50 percent think relying on the federal government rather than states to enforce immigration laws is the best approach to dealing with illegal immigration. Forty-one percent think it’s better to allow individual states to act on their own. Support for state action was slightly higher in 2011 and 2012.


Following the latest wave of illegal immigrants on the Mexico border, though, just 13 percent of surveyed voters think the federal government is doing a good or excellent job dealing with the problem, and 60 percent believe a state should have the right to enforce current immigration laws if it believes the feds are not enforcing them. Sixty-one percent favor using their state’s National Guard if necessary to deal with illegal immigration.


Most voters (57 percent) also continue to agree that the U.S. military should be used along the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration, up from 52 percent in November. One-in-four (26 percent ) disagree, while 16 percent are undecided.


U.S. voters rate the latest immigration crisis as a bigger national security problem for this country than Russia and the renewed fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.