News / USA

    Obama's Vow to Speed Deportation of Children at Odds with Public Opinion

    Migrants from Central America hold candles during a protest demanding a reform in U.S. immigration laws which regulate the illegal exodus of children into the U.S., and to provide protection for them, outside the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, August 9, 201
    Migrants from Central America hold candles during a protest demanding a reform in U.S. immigration laws which regulate the illegal exodus of children into the U.S., and to provide protection for them, outside the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, August 9, 201
    Reuters

    President Barack Obama's pledge to fast-track the deportation of migrant children from Central America is out of step with the opinion of a majority of Americans, who say the children should be allowed to stay in the United States, at least for a while.

    The results of a Reuters/Ipsos poll highlight the complexity of the child migrant issue for Obama, who has sought to emphasize his compassion while also insisting that his administration plans to send home most of the children, many of whom have fled violence in their homelands.

    The poll, conducted on July 31-Aug. 5, found that 51 percent of Americans believe the unaccompanied children being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border should be allowed to remain in the country for some length of time.

    That included 38 percent who thought the unaccompanied youngsters should be sheltered and cared for until it was deemed safe for them to return home. Thirteen percent said the children should be allowed to stay in the United States, while 32 percent said the children should be immediately deported.

    “Overall, people are humane and they understand that no matter what our situation is with the budget, whether or not we can afford this, these are kids. No matter what the immigration system is, they are innocent,” said Lance Lee, 42, of Alabama, who took part in the survey.

    But Lee said he wanted to see the border sealed to prevent another wave of illegal migrants entering the United States.

    Between October 2013 and the end of July of this year, nearly 63,000 unaccompanied children have flooded across the southwestern U.S. border. Many are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

    Concerned that smugglers are encouraging the influx by spreading rumors that the children will be allowed to stay in the United States, the Obama administration has toughened its public messaging, warning that newly arriving youngsters will be quickly sent home.

    Obama is widely seen as acting, at least in part, because of intensifying election-year pressure from Republicans, who say he has not moved swiftly enough to curb the influx.

    The Justice Department is placing child migrants on a faster track for deportation hearings, and the White House has called for changes to a 2008 law, intended to combat human trafficking, that bars the immediate removal of Central American children.

    Fast-track opposition

    Those policies have angered some of Obama's Democratic allies in the U.S. Congress and Hispanic groups that represent an important base of the president's political support.

    Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez, a leading advocate in the U.S. Congress of immigration reform, has vehemently criticized the fast-track policy, which includes prioritizing children over adults at deportation hearings.

    “We should not take short-cuts and circumvent due process at this critical time when children are fleeing violence and asking for our help,” Gutierrez said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

    At the same time, Republicans have sharply criticized Obama's policies, saying his 2012 decision to give temporary deportation relief to some young people brought to the United States by their parents had encouraged the border influx.

    Emphasizing the compassionate side of the administration's policies, Vice President Joe Biden last week urged private law firms to offer the children free legal assistance.

    “There's an awful lot of kids who need help. They need representation,” Biden said.

    The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 48 percent of Democrats believe the children should be cared for until it is safe for them to return home, against 30 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of people who identified themselves as independents.

    The question of where and how to house the children while they await deportation hearings has stirred strong responses in some communities where shelters were planned. There were fears the youngsters could bring crime and disease to neighborhoods and create an extra burden on public finances.

    Flag-waving demonstrations took place in border cities like Oracle, Arizona while local government in communities such as such as Murrieta, California, and League City, Texas, voted to rejected any plan to build shelters.

    But the survey showed that the opposition to housing the children is not as widespread as the anti-immigrant images that dominated the media in recent weeks may have suggested.

    Asked if they supported allowing the unaccompanied minors to be temporarily relocated to their communities, 41 percent said they would support such a step, while 48 percent said they opposed it.

    General ambivalence

    “There are these really passionate, smaller pieces of the population that are really loud about it, but the broader public is much more ambivalent,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said.

    Also, while some people may in principle support the idea of housing children in their communities, the reality of shelters in their communities can change minds.

    Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley initially criticized the Obama administration's plans to quickly deport the children, but he later pushed back against a proposal to shelter them at a facility in his state.

    “A lot of Americans are compassionate, but they want other people to bear the burden of that compassion,” said John Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College.

    Last week, the U.S. government said it planned to soon close three interim shelters on military bases that have housed thousands of unaccompanied children, due in large part to decreasing numbers of minors making the trip.

    The number of children crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas was estimated to have slowed from more than 300 unaccompanied children per day in June to less than 150 in July, federal officials said.

    The Reuters/Ipsos poll of late July to early August interviewed 1,566 Americans online. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey had a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora