As congressional leaders enjoy a five-week summer recess -- one taken before acting on President Barack Obama's request for supplemental financing to address the border crisis -- Americans are weighing in on the debate, and a majority believe immigrant children who arrive at the country's southwestern border should be allowed to remain in the United States.
Just more than half — 51% — of residents said the government should provide shelter and care — even temporarily — to the unaccompanied kids fleeing violence and instability in Central America, according to a new poll released Monday by Reuters/Ipsos. Additionally, 38% of Americans said the children should receive care until their home countries are deemed safe.
The government recently opened additional detention facilities and increased the number of flights to return immigrants to their home countries. But questions about where to house the children and for how long have stirred debate among members of both sides of the aisle. Almost half of the Democrats surveyed for the poll — 48% — believed the children should be cared for until situations improve in their home countries. Just 30% of Republicans held the same view.
The poll was conducted between July 31 and Aug. 5 among 1,566 Americans.
The surge in immigrants along the border escalated into both a humanitarian crisis and a political challenge for the Obama administration within recent months. The White House continues to search for ways to expedite the deportation process for individuals who don't qualify for asylum in the United States. But the process to determine who is eligible can involve a sometimes lengthy court process. Obama is considering executive actions that could block millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The number of kids taken into custody at the border significantly decreased from previous months in July, despite the more than 60,000 unaccompanied children who have arrived at the country's southwestern border since October. The number of kids apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in July — 5,508 — was reduced by almost half from the nearly 11,000 in each of the prior two months.
So far this year, officials reported the highest amount of apprehended unaccompanied children in June, while January had the fewest with 3,706.