Poll: 88 percent of voters don’t want families separated at border


A majority of registered voters say the Trump administration is to blame for the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new poll that showed even more people want those family members kept together as their cases move through the courts.

A new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, released exclusively to The Hill, found that 61 percent of voters say the administration is responsible for the family separations, while 39 percent blame the parents who are accused of illegally crossing into the United States.


Eighty-eight percent said the families should be kept together while their cases move through immigration court, and 73 percent said Trump acted appropriately when he signed an executive order last week to stop the government from splitting up families at the border.

The survey results come as the administration continues to deal with fallout from its controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy, and as lawmakers on Capitol Hill attempt to craft a legislative solution to the family-separation issue. Trump’s executive order is unlikely to end the controversy, in part because a federal court settlement doesn’t allow children to be held in immigration detention centers for more than 20 consecutive days.

Survey participants are supportive of consequences for those who cross the border illegally, with the severity of the punishment dictating the level of support. Sixty-four percent said they want to deport people who illegally enter the country, while 61 percent also support removing parents with children who cross.

A narrow majority — 53 percent — say that people who cross the border illegally should be prosecuted, while voters are evenly split at 50 percent over whether to prosecute those who cross with children.

Overall, voters continue to support a comprehensive immigration overhaul that would offer a path to citizenship for immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. by their parents in exchange for policy changes such as shifting toward a merit-based immigration system and shoring up border security.

Thirty-one percent agreed with the idea of disbanding the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, an idea that’s gained steam recently among some progressives.

“On balance it’s a public with compassion and heart rejecting extreme measures, but wants illegal immigration curbed and supports action that would provide DACA recipients with a path to citizenship provided we had a strong border and reforms in the system,” said Mark Penn, co-director of the Harvard-Harris poll.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll online survey of 1,448 registered voters was conducted June 24-25. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, 29 percent independent and 2 percent other.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard/Harris Poll throughout 2018. 

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.


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