The past several months have marked an unprecedented period in American immigration policy as the U.S.s southern border has experienced a surge in the influx of unaccompanied minors. Many are fleeing dire economic circumstances and widespread violence in their home countries throughout Mexico and Central America. Lured by false promises of asylum and the illusion of opportunity, unaccompanied minors have presented Congress and the Obama administration a major legal and humanitarian crisis
According to a series of polls recently conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Americans are relatively split when considering an issue, which is both legally complex and morally troubling. Overall, the polls major takeaways suggest that while President Obamas approval rating hasnt been significantly affected by the recent developments on the border, the public is generally discontent with his handling of the situation.
Further, a majority of adults suggest an acceleration in the deportation processeven if it involves the premature deportation of children who may be eligible for asylum. Overall, however, a majority of the American public remains open to the idea of a major overhaul of the immigration system so that illegal aliens can garner legal residency upon meeting certain requirements.
As the Pew Research Center explains when summarizing the results of its polls, President Obama gets very low ratings for his handling of the issue. Just 28% of the public approves of the way he is handling the surge of children from Central America, while twice as many (56%) disapprove. That is one of the lowest ratings for his handling of any issue since he became president. But Obamas overall job rating is virtually unchanged from April: 44% approve of his job performance while 49% disapprove.
The issue doesnt seem to be as party-oriented as many suggest, with the study indicating that both parties dealing with the issue was generally viewed an in equally disapproving manner at approximately 40%. More importantly, the recent surge at the border has led to survey results which indicate that, about half [of those polled] (53%) think that the legal process for dealing with Central American children who cross the border illegally should be accelerated, even if that means that some children who are eligible for asylum are deported. Fewer (39%) support staying with the current policy, even though the process could take a long time and the children will stay in the U.S. in the interim.
Finally, while the American public generally continues to support a major overhaul of the immigration system so that illegal immigrants can gain legal residency upon meeting certain requirement, support for this policy has dwindled slightly. As the Pew Research Center survey indicates, since the beginning of the crisis, support for an easier path to legalization has fallen nationwide from 73% to 68%.
Ultimately, the indefiniteness of the poll results indicate that the American public is just as unsure of how to deal with the issue as our legislative and executive branches are.