Americans still support asylum for immigrants fleeing persecution, poll finds

As the Biden administration prepares to end the use of a Trump-era border measure that limits access to asylum, most Americans remain supportive of protecting immigrants fleeing persecution and torture abroad.

According to a new poll conducted by polling organization YouGov for The Times, 55 to 23 percent of Americans say the US should continue to grant asylum to people arriving at the border if they are found to be fleeing persecution.

Support for offering asylum stretches across party lines, although Democrats are significantly more in favor and Republicans are more narrowly divided.

A much larger disagreement divides Americans over how many of those seeking asylum are actually fleeing persecution. Among Democrats, nearly half said most or all asylum seekers had valid applications. Only one in six Republicans held a similar view, the LA Times/YouGov poll found. More than 6 in 10 Republicans said few or none of the asylum seekers had valid applications.

The LA Times/YouGov survey surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,573 adult American citizens who were surveyed online December 9-14. The results have a margin of error of 3 percentage points in either direction.

The poll also found that most Americans continue to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that allows people brought to the United States as children to legally live and work in the United States. The program is being challenged in court by Texas and several other Republican states.

Half of respondents said DACA should continue, compared to 29% who said it should end. Another 21% were unsure.

More than half of those surveyed – 55% – said that even if DACA ends, those affected should still be allowed to legally work and live in the United States.

The poll results come as Biden administration officials debate how to handle asylum cases going forward.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, border officials have used Title 42, a section of the Public Health Act, to quickly expel would-be immigrants at the border, often without considering their asylum claims. A federal judge has ordered the Biden administration to stop applying the pandemic-era measure until Wednesday.

Although public support for granting asylum to immigrants fleeing persecution, Americans also believe the process should be expedited. More than 4 in 10 Americans said the asylum process shouldn’t take longer than 6 months; more than two-thirds said it shouldn’t take longer than a year.

Currently, it can take years for asylum cases to be heard in court.

The poll made it clear that Americans remain impatient with President Biden’s handling of immigration. Only 8% of respondents said they strongly support Biden’s immigration policies; another 25% said they agreed with them somewhat.

That’s a significantly more unfavorable verdict than the general public’s opinion of Biden’s job performance: 40% of Americans agree, according to a YouGov poll.

According to the survey, most Americans generally have a positive or neutral opinion on immigration. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans think immigration either makes the US better off (35%) or doesn’t make much of a difference (23%).

Similarly, a majority of Americans support the birthright of citizenship, the constitutional provision that automatically confers US citizenship on every child born in this country. This view is widespread, with support outpacing opposition among liberals and conservatives, white Americans and people of color, and Democrats and Republicans.

There’s one big exception: people who said they voted for Donald Trump in 2020. These voters are very divided, with 44% in favor of abolishing citizenship by birthright and 41% against.

This finding is consistent with another finding in the poll — the sharp disagreement over whether immigration is helping or hurting the country.

While just over a third of Americans say immigration is making the country better, 29%, including 52% of Trump voters and 49% of Republicans, believe immigration is making the country worse.

These anti-immigrant Americans make up about half of the GOP and support major changes to the country’s immigration laws.

Americans who believe immigration makes the country worse off oppose birthright citizenship, 46% to 38%. They support the termination of DACA, 60% to 28%. And they say much more than the general public that even legal immigration is a problem in the United States.

More than 4 in 10 of those who believe immigration makes the country worse off say legal immigration is a problem; only 17% of the general population agree.

However, immigration policies seem to change with age. Millennials and Gen Z Americans – the two most disparate generations – have dramatically different views on immigration than their older counterparts.

Americans ages 45-64 and 65 and older have nearly identical views on immigration; 38% of each group believe immigration makes the country worse off.

In contrast, only 15% of those under 30 and 21% of those aged 30 to 44 believe immigration is making the country worse.

The gap between the age groups is driven by changes in Republicans rather than Democrats. Republicans under 30 are much more likely than older Republicans to believe that immigrants will help the country. 42 percent of Republicans under 30 said immigrants make the country better.

Various studies have attempted to measure the impact of immigration on the economy. The Center for American Progress, a Democrat-affiliated research group, said, that creating a route to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would boost the nation’s gross domestic product. Americans still support asylum for immigrants fleeing persecution, poll finds

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