As the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border remains unresolved with Congress preparing to go into recess, Hispanic voters are deeply divided over how the issue should be dealt with, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
The survey, which was conducted from July 8-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, found that 49 percent of Hispanic respondents support the current system of deciding illegal immigration cases, while 47 percent say the process should be sped up for the unaccompanied minors who have flooded the border.
Those who said the process should be expedited support it even if it means immigrants who are eligible for asylum will be deported back to their home countries.
The division among Hispanics creates an interesting situation for lawmakers in the nation’s capital. See, if Hispanics were unified on the issue, it would make it easy for lawmakers to take their cues on how to deal with the crisis from that voting bloc, possibly securing future votes and campaign donations. But as there’s a division among Hispanics, lawmakers now have to work their way through the crisis without any clues from a group that is deeply engaged in the issue.
“Under current practice, it can take months or even years before the children are processed through U.S. immigration system and either given asylum (or other legal status) or ordered deported,” Pew reported.
For its part, the White House has requested that Congress funnel $3.7 billion in aid to federal and state officials who are trying to sort through the problem. Congress has so far been reluctant to grant this request, with top lawmakers arguing that the money does little to cure the problem.
The crisis has also had a negative effect on the president’s approval rating among Hispanics, 46 percent of respondents saying they disapprove of his handling of the situation, while 34 percent say they approve.
The Senate and House are currently undecided on how best to handle the issue.
“Between Oct. 1, 2013 and June 30 of this year, 57,525 unaccompanied children under 18 (those traveling without a parent or guardian), were taken into custody,” the Pew report added, citing U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “In June alone, about 10,508 were apprehended by Border Patrol compared to the 27,884 children who were apprehended during all of last fiscal year.”
The new Pew survey, which polled some 1,805 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, also found that Hispanic respondents are far more likely than any other group to be informed of the border crisis. Approximately 94 percent of Hispanics, who account for approximately 223 of total survey respondents, say they’ve heard “a lot” or at least “a little” about the crisis, while a smaller number, 89 percent, of the overall public said the same.
But here are some really interesting takeaways from the Pew data: “While about two-thirds (68 percent) of the overall public support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country if they meet certain requirements, a significantly larger share (85 percent) of Hispanics holds that view.”
“Indeed, Hispanics put a premium on changes in deportation policy,” the Pew report added, citing previous studies on the issue. “By a 55 percent to 35 percent margin, Hispanics said it is more important for undocumented immigrants to get relief from deportation than it is to have a pathway to citizenship.”