February 23, 2024 8:00am

Austin-area Power Poll shows support for state and federal roles in border enforcement

While state and federal officials squabble over which level of government has border enforcement authority, two-thirds of Austin area Power Poll respondents say the answer is both.

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Austin, TX Correspondent
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While state and federal officials squabble over which level of government has border enforcement authority, two-thirds of Austin area Power Poll respondents say the answer is both.

The February poll also found majority support for a city-administered guaranteed income program for low-income residents, but with conditions.

And the February survey also found a large majority of the participating civic, governmental and business leaders in the area are just like many Americans: They watched the Super Bowl.

The Power Poll question on the contentious and ongoing battle at the U.S.-Mexico border noted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s aggressive enforcement efforts that have drawn pushback from the Biden Administration. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said the state and federal governments both have roles to play in immigration enforcement.

Only 31 percent said it’s exclusively a federal responsibility and the state should stay out of it. One percent said the state should have primary authority.

Power Poll participant Lionel Felix, CEO of Felix Media Solutions, noted the dangers of the current situation at the border.

“Squaring up in an aggressive way and pitting law enforcement against law enforcement at the border is highly irresponsible political posturing that endangers everyone,” Felix said. “Our southern border is a problem. Anyone entering outside of the proper process is violating the law and should be handled quickly. Sadly, no one is willing to be objective and wants to use the problem at the border for their own political ends.”

The question about guaranteed annual income for low-income residents noted a recent study involving a pilot program funded by a nonprofit organization. In that program, 135 low-income Austin households were given $1,000 a month. The study found that participants used more than half the money to pay for housing.

Forty-six percent of Power Poll respondents said the city of Austin should not establish a guaranteed income program for low-income residents. But 55 percent indicated they could support such a program. A total of 24 percent said the program should use city funds for it. And 31 percent said they’d support such a program but only if it used money donated specifically for that purpose.

Terry Cole, founder of Street Youth Ministry of Austin, said, “I’m older, and people of my generation particularly have been taught by political messages and have a bias against” guaranteed income programs.

“However, study after study shows that free money in the hands of people already doing things to rise out of poverty truly does cement their progress,” Cole said. “It’s probably too early to say we need permanent programs like this, but I support the city having such a program provided they find specific funding for it.”

Such a structure, he said, guarantees oversight by those providing the money.

It’s worked elsewhere, according to Cole, and “it may not work in Texas and it may not work for everyone, but cost-effective public support is a type of support that leads to stability and an end of payments rather than a lifetime of payments.”

The Super Bowl question produced data supporting the obvious: It’s a popular football game. The Kansas City Chiefs’ exciting 25-22 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers drew 123.4 million viewers, according to CBS Sports, making it the most-watched telecast in U.S. history.

Eighty-four percent of Austin-area Power Poll respondents said they watched the game one way or another. Sixty-one percent did so at home, either by themselves or with family. Twenty-three percent watched at a Super Bowl party. One percent did so at a restaurant or sports bar.

And another one percent said they watched, but only for the commercials and/or the halftime show. Seven percent said they didn’t watch, claiming the game has become more spectacle than sporting event.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they did not place any wagers on the big game and 18 percent said the spread of legalized gambling on sporting events is a troubling trend.

And seven percent clicked the response that said “What is this ‘Super Bowl’ of which you speak?”

Power Poll welcomes those respondents to our planet.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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