Most Americans see Mexico as a partner despite border problems, poll finds

About two-thirds of Americans see their southern neighbor as having at least a friendly relationship with the U.S., but only 16% consider Mexico a close ally.MIAMI — Most people in the U.S. see Mexico as an essential partner to stop drug trafficking and illegal border crossings, even as they express mixed views of Mexico’s government, according to a new poll.

The poll from the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about two-thirds of Americans see their southern neighbor as having at least a friendly relationship with the U.S. Relatively few within that group, or 16%, consider Mexico a close ally. Meanwhile, U.S. adults are more likely to have an unfavorable (38%) view of Mexico’s leadership than a favorable (12%) one. The remaining responded they did not have an unfavorable or favorable view or were not sure.

The poll captures the different perceptions Americans have of Mexico, its leadership and the estimated 10 million immigrants living in the U.S. Mexico is the largest trade partner of the U.S. and both countries have deep diplomatic and cultural ties. But both Washington and Mexico City are under immense pressure to reduce unauthorized migration at their shared border and to stop the trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids that killed around 75,000 people in the U.S. last year.

“For two countries that are such close neighbors, so intertwined in each others’ lives, and have been for so long, there’s still room to grow,” said Benjamin Lessing, an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago and faculty affiliate of the Pearson Institute.

Americans see a shared responsibility for the two countries to address their international problems, including illegal immigration and drug trafficking. About two-thirds of Americans say the U.S. government and Mexican government should both be responsible for preventing immigrants — from Mexico or from other countries — from getting into the U.S. illegally through Mexico. An even larger share, or about three-quarters of Americans, say the governments should both be responsible for preventing illegal drug trafficking from Mexico to the U.S.

“We need as best relations as possible,” said Kris Bennefield, 41, of San Augustine, Texas. “We should be working hand in hand with Mexico to take the cartels down.”The results come as several of the Republican presidential candidates say they would use military force against Mexico in response to the trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. As the Israel-Hamas war rages on, some in the GOP field are suggesting without evidence that militants may be taking advantage of the mass arrivals of migrants to come through the U.S.-Mexico border.

Americans place a high level of importance on preventing illegal immigration across the border between the U.S. and Mexico: 53% of U.S. adults call this an important foreign policy goal. Republicans (80%) are more likely than Independents (50%) and Democrats (35%) to call this important.

Slightly fewer (43%) Americans say it’s important to create more opportunities for legal immigration from Mexico to the U.S., with Democrats (57%) being more likely than Republicans (25%) to prioritize this.“There’s a big part of the population that recognizes the importance and the big effort that the two nations are making to work together,” said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a professor at George Mason University who specializes in U.S.-Mexico relations.


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