POLL: More Voters Blame Parents Than Feds For Family Separation Crisis

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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A majority of likely voters think illegal immigrant parents are more to blame for the latest immigration crisis than the Trump administration, according to a Rasmussen poll released Thursday.

When migrant families are caught illegally crossing the southwest border and subsequently separated for criminal prosecution, 54 percent of American voters say the adults are to blame for breaking the law.

Only 35 percent believe the government is at fault for enforcing the law, while 11 percent are unsure of who is more to blame.

Rasmussen Reports’ latest national telephone and online survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted June 19-20. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points and a 95 percent level of confidence.

The poll comes as President Donald Trump continues to deal with the political fallout from his decision to implement a “zero-tolerance” policy against illegal border crossing. Under the policy, the Justice Department is prosecuting as many cases of illegal entry as possible, even against defendants who were traveling with children at the time they were arrested.

The aggressive prosecution strategy has caused a spike in the number of migrant families being separated at the border, since federal law prohibits holding children with their parents in criminal detention facilities. More than 2,300 migrant children were separated from family units that were caught crossing the border illegally between May 5 and June 9, according to Customs and Border Protection statistics released Tuesday.

Immigration activists and Trump’s Democratic opponents have called the policy cruel and inhumane, with many likening it to the U.S. government’s internment of Japanese-Americans or even Nazi concentration camps during WWII. Under intense political pressure, Trump issued an executive order Wednesday requiring the government to keep families in immigration detention together while the adults are prosecuted. (RELATED: Crying Honduran Child Who Became The Face Of Border Family Separation Was Never Separated From Family)

Predictably, the question of who is to blame for the family separation crisis depends on the respondent’s political orientation, according to the Rasmussen poll. Of voters affiliated with the Republican Party, 82 percent think parents are more to blame for breaking the law. But 60 percent of Democratic voters say the government is primarily to blame.

Independents tend to align with the Republican point of view on the family separation issue: 56 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party say parents are more to blame for breaking the law.

The poll results also indicate that Trump’s tough approach to border enforcement is broadly popular with his Republican base and, critically, independent swing voters. A majority — 54 percent — of likely voters agree with Trump’s remarks from Monday that “The United States will not be a migrant camp. And it will not be a refugee-holding facility — it won’t be.”

Just 30 percent disagree with that statement, while 16 percent are undecided.

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