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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid