(Trends Wide) — Most Americans say now is not the time to end a pandemic-era border restriction that the Biden administration hoped to lift this month, but those who say it should continue are divided on how long it should remain in place. according to a new Trends Wide poll conducted by SSRS.
The policy, known as Title 42, was implemented by the Trump administration early in the coronavirus pandemic. Title 42 allows US border officials to immediately return migrants who have arrived in the US, including those seeking asylum, to Mexico or their home countries due to the public health crisis. While the majority of the public (56%) is in favor of allowing migrants from Central American countries to apply for asylum, fewer respondents (45%) say that asylum applications should take precedence over efforts to limit the number of people seeking asylum. enter the country.
The Biden administration’s plans to lift Title 42 in May were temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Louisiana. Efforts to reverse the policy were backed by immigrant rights advocates and some public health experts, but criticized by Republican lawmakers, as well as some Democrats from swing states, who argued that President Joe Biden lacked a plan. clear post-Title 42 to handle an expected increase in border crossings.
43% of Americans say it’s time to end Title 42 and go back to pre-pandemic procedures, while 57% say no. But those who say the time is not right are divided: 29% say it should stay indefinitely and 27% say the government needs more time to end the policy.
A majority of Democrats, 64%, want to see an end to Title 42 now, with 28% saying the government needs more time and 8% saying it should stay on indefinitely. More than 8 in 10 Republicans say now is not the time to end the restriction, including 57% who say the pandemic-era measure should stay indefinitely, 26% say the government needs more time to prepare and 17% believe it should end immediately.
Most Americans have doubts about the Biden administration’s ability to handle a surge in migration that is widely expected if the policy ends. Only 26% say they have at least some confidence that the administration is prepared to handle any increase in the number of immigrants seeking to enter the US that could occur after the end of Title 42, and 74% express little or no trust. Among Republicans, 82% say they have no confidence at all, while only 14% of Democrats feel the same way.
Public opinion of migrants
56% of Americans favor allowing migrants from Central American countries to seek asylum in the United States, a modest decrease from 63% in April 2021. A year ago, strong support for allowing migrants to seek asylum outweighed the strong opposition, but in the most recent poll strong sentiments are equally prevalent on both sides (22% strongly in favour, while 23% strongly oppose).
However, a 54% majority say minimizing the number of people trying to enter the US should be a higher priority than allowing people to seek asylum in the country, and only 45% say asylum seekers asylum should be the highest priority.
Opinions are sharply divided along party lines.
Roughly three-quarters of Democrats (74%) favor allowing Central American migrants to seek asylum in the US, and 62% say allowing people to seek asylum should take precedence over minimizing the number of people who seek asylum. seeking to enter the US Among independents, those numbers are 59% and 50%, respectively.
Only 35% of Republicans favor allowing Central American migrants to apply for asylum, and only 22% think asylum seekers should be a priority for lawmakers.
Immigration is not a central issue
Immigration is not currently at the forefront of most Americans’ minds: Only 10% of Americans consider it to be the number one issue facing the nation, compared to 50% who say the biggest concern is the economy , according to the results of the same survey published earlier this week. Only 41% say they have followed the news about Title 42 even somewhat closely, and only 12% say they have followed the news very closely.
Strong interest in the issue is more common on the right, with 25% of Republicans and just 6% of Democrats saying they have followed the news very closely. Even within the GOP, the spotlight is concentrated on conservatives, with 62% of conservative Republicans saying they are following at least somewhat closely, compared with about 4 in 10 moderate or liberal Republicans, moderate or conservative Democrats, and Liberal Democrats alike.
About two-thirds of Americans, 68%, say they currently view the situation at the US-Mexico border as a crisis. That’s down from 78% last April, a change that reflects diminishing concerns among both Democrats and independents.
However, public discontent with the government’s approach to immigration is widespread.
Only 27% of Americans approve of the way the US government treats migrants trying to cross the southern border, similar to the 31% who approved under the Trump administration in 2019.
A majority of 62% currently say that the US government does too little to try to enforce immigration laws, with 26% saying the government is doing the right thing and 12% saying it is doing too much. Specifically on Biden’s handling of immigration, 34% approve and 66% disapprove.
The Trends Wide poll was conducted by SSRS from April 28 to May 1 among a random national sample of 1,007 adults surveyed online or by phone after being recruited using probability-based methods. The results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.