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November 18, 2017

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Polls show everyone losing during immigration crisis

Blame is widespread as Congress, Obama grapple with border surge


Rick Loomis / Associated Press

An immigrant peers out from a detention area in McAllen, Texas, Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at the McAllen Border Patrol Station. A solution for the growing crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border has been elusive.

The public has cast a wide net of blame, polls show, as President Barack Obama and a contentious Congress clash over the best course of action to address the surge of immigrant families and children coming across the southern border illegally.

More than two thirds of people surveyed disapproved of Obama’s handling of immigration issues in a poll released Tuesday that was conducted between July 24-28 by the Associated Press and GFK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications.

More than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended crossing the Mexico/U.S. border in the first nine months of FY 2014, already a 106 percent increase from all of FY 2013. Additionally, 55,420 family units have been caught at the Southwest border during the same period, a 493 percent increase from all of FY 2013.

In January, in a poll conducted by the same organization, 57 percent of people said they disapproved of the administration’s handling of immigration, and now the figure is up to 68 percent.

When asked about the failure of Congress to pass immigration system reform legislation, those polled spread the blame around. Respondents were given the option to assign “some,” “a lot,” or “all” of the responsibility for the impasse on Democrats, Republicans and the president.

Forty-four percent said the GOP deserved all or a lot of the blame, 38 percent said the same about Obama, and 36 percent pointed the finger at Democrats. (The total is more than 100 percent because it combines the respondents for both the “all of the blame” and “a lot of the blame” categories.)

The House of Representatives was frantically attempting to pass a bill Friday that would allot $694 million in funding to help address the surge of children and families crossing illegally, in part by speeding up the deportation process.

Indicating the growing focus on border issues, 67 percent of people said immigration is an “extremely serious” or “very serious” problem, up 14 percentage points from May.

A slight majority of respondents still favor providing a legal status and a path to citizenship for those immigrants already in the country illegally, but the number is dropping in relation to polls conducted earlier in the year.

A Pew Research Center poll released in July showed a 12-percentage point jump, up to 61 percent, from February in the amount of people saying it is important to pass “significant” immigration policy legislation.

A majority, 53 percent, told Pew the government should speed up the deportation process for child immigrants “even if some who are eligible for asylum are deported.”

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