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Fifty-four percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Minutemen volunteers who patrolled portions of the Mexican border this year, according to a new poll.

A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 22 percent have an unfavorable view of the citizen activists.

The Minuteman Project made national headlines in April when it patrolled a 23-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, preventing countless crossings by illegal aliens. MinutemanHQ.com – the combined effort of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and the Minuteman Project – has established at least 25 chapters along the southern border and also is planning patrols on the Canadian border.

The poll showed 48 percent of Americans believe the federal government should encourage volunteers to patrol the entire Mexican border while 33 percent disagree.

Fifty-two percent agree that if citizen patrols were encouraged across the entire Mexican border, illegal immigration would be reduced. Twenty-five percent reject that assertion.

A related survey found most Americans consider current immigration laws a threat to both national security and the economy.

The Minutemen poll found that 36 percent believe legal immigrants should be required to live in the U.S. for five years before they are eligible for citizenship.

The immigration issue is “very important” when it comes to determining how to vote in the next presidential election, according to 38 percent of respondents.

Another 31 percent say it will be somewhat important.

Twenty-seven percent say it’s not very important or not at all important.

Seventy-three percent of Republicans rank the issue as somewhat or very important along with 64 percent of Democrats.

Republicans, by a 59 percent to 29 percent margin, say that the federal government should encourage citizen patrols along the entire border.

Among Democrats, 39 percent are in favor and 38 percent are opposed.

Among those not affiliated with either major party, 44 percent say the federal government should encourage such patrols and 39 percent disagree.

The Minutemen volunteers are viewed favorably by 65 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of Democrats, and 42 percent of unaffiliated respondents.

The poll found little difference of opinion between married and unmarried Americans and between men and women. But middle-income citizens tend to be more supportive of the Minutemen and volunteer patrols than people at either end of the income spectrum.

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Showdown at border?

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