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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid