Poll: Americans Don’t Like Obama’s Border Policy

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Swing voters, mid-income voters, Hispanic voters and pretty much every other demographic group are opposed to President Barack Obama’s handling of the border crisis, according to a new Washington Post poll.

His response to the wave of Central American migrants who are now crossing the Texas border is disapproved by 59 percent of registered voters, and is approved by only 34 percent of voters.

Worse for Obama, it is disapproved strongly by 42 percent of registered voters, and strongly approved by only 13 percent of registered voters, said the poll.

That’s a big problem for Obama, who hasn’t stopped the growing wave of Central American migrants on the Texas border, and hasn’t mollified angry demands from Latino lobbies for even more reductions in enforcement of immigration law.

Since early 2013, he’s also been pushing Congress hard to pass a comprehensive immigration reform law that would roughly double the inflow of guest workers and immigrants. The current inflow is roughly one million immigrants and 800,000 guest workers, into a nation where four million Americans turn 18 each year.

Those contradictory forces are hitting him as he tries to keep the Democrats’ shaky majority in the Senate.

Obama, Democrats and reporters “would be fools to write off these poll results,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “They’re clearly identifying a public unease that is widespread.”

That unease is also powering widespread community protests against Obama’s transfer of Central American migrants into communities in numerous states, he said. Those communities are in Democratic-leaning California, Maryland, Michigan and Massachusetts, he said.

The Washington Post’s results show the GOP has an opportunity to win public support by offering a pro-American immigration policy that defers amnesty debates until the federal government reduces the number and inflow of illegal immigrants, Krikorian said.

“Will [House Speaker John] Boehner or [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell take the lead on this? I’m not hopeful,” he said.

“The leadership wants to satisfy the donor class, which doesn’t want enforcement and does really want big increases in legal immigration,” he said.

The Post poll asks voters if they support the GOP’s current policies, and revealed only 23 percent strong support.

The GOP’s immigration policies are supported strongly by 24 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of independents, and eight percent of African-Americans.

Twenty-three percent of Hispanics support the GOP’s policies, either strongly or somewhat, the poll said.

The Post poll gauged voters’ response as “strongly” or “somewhat.” That’s useful because people with strong feeling on an issue are mostly likely to be let that issue decide their voting decisions. People with “somewhat” feelings, however, are likely more interested in other political issues.

In the poll, 85 percent of GOP supporters strongly oppose Obama’s response to the border crisis, along with 40 percent of swing voters, and 18 percent of Democrats.

Thirty-three percent of Hispanics strongly oppose his border policies, versus only 20 percent who strongly support his policies.

Another 21 percent of Hispanics somewhat oppose his policies, creating a 54 percent, to 40 percent split against him among a group with the greatest ethnic ties to the poor Central American immigrants.

That split matches recent polls by Rasmussen Reports and IBD/TIPP.

Only 55 percent of African-Americans strongly support his border policy, sharply down from his usual 80-percent plus support, the post said. This 55 percent support, however, may be boosted by personal loyalty to Obama, and made hide deeper unease about Obama’s support for the growing Latino population.

In recent days, there’s been scattered opposition in African-American communities to Obama’s border policy, which may grow in the next few months.

However, the poll may exaggerate opposition to his border policies. That’s because it doesn’t show how many Americans disapprove of his pro-immigration policies as too cautious.

There’s some evidence that some of the opposition comes from people who want Obama to provide even more support to immigrants. For example, his border policy is disapproved by 60 percent of people who earn less than $50,000 a year, and by 60 percent of those who earn more than $100,000 per year. BUt those two group include a disproportionate number of recent immigrants and wealthy post-grad professionals, both of which tend to favor easier immigration rules.

The middle group, earning $50,000 to $100,000, opposes his border policy by 55 percent to 42 percent, is likely a better match for voters’ attitudes. Only 14 percent of this group strongly favors his generally supportive policy toward the Central American migrants, while 39 percent strongly oppose those policies.

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