The Democrats have gone all in on pushing for the reinstatement of the Obama-era "catch and release" policy, which simply allows families who enter the country illegally to go free on the promise that they will show up for immigration hearings at a later date. But while there is widespread public outrage over the idea of separating illegal immigrant families, does the American public support the Democrats' favored approach?
A new poll by YouGov provides the answer, and it's an emphatic no.
In a poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted from June 17 to 19, YouGov found that only 19% favored "releasing the families and having them report back for an immigration hearing at a later date."
Even among Democrats, only 30% liked the idea, while 33% of Hillary Clinton voters and 36% of self-described "liberals" favored it. Among Independents, just 17% were in favor of catch and release, as were just 16% of moderates. Among Republicans, only 7% backed it, as did only 7% of conservatives and 4% of Trump voters.
By far the most popular of the four policies provided in the poll was "holding families together in detention centers until an immigration hearing at a later date," which appears to be the direction the Trump administration is leaning. A total of 44% of respondents backed that plan, including 49% of Democrats, 39% of Independents, 47% of Republicans, 53% of Clinton voters, 44% of Trump voters, 48% of liberals, 51% of moderates, and 43% of conservatives.
Little less popular than "catch and release" was Trump's previous approach: "arresting the adults, sending them to jail to await a criminal trial and sending any minor children to shelters run by the Department of Health." A total of 12% backed that idea, including just 5% of Democrats, 12% of Independents, 22% of Republicans, 3% of Clinton voters, 27% of Trump voters, 3% of liberals, 11% of moderates, and 25% of conservatives.
Least popular of the four options was "arresting both the adults and minor children, sending the adults to jail and the minor children to juvenile detention centers to await a criminal trial." Only 8% supported that option: 2% of Democrats, 7% of Independents, 16% of Republicans, 2% of Clinton voters, 15% of Trump voters, 2% of liberals, 6% of moderates, and 15% of conservatives.
Pollsters also found that while many Americans don't agree with the separation of illegal immigrant families, more than a third see it as a deterrent to future illegal immigration.
Asked, "Do you think the policy of separating parents arrested for crossing the border into the United States without proper documentation from their minor children will or will not discourage immigrants from crossing the border illegally?" a total of 34% said yes, while 38% said no and 28% were unsure. Here's the breakdown: Democrats (21/49), Independents (32/35), Republicans (52/31), Clinton voters (20/57), Trump voters (59/25), Liberals (20/54), Moderates (30/42), and Conservatives (54/29).
As for who is to blame for the current separation of families, more than twice as many blamed Trump (47%) than Democrats (22%), while nearly a third (30%) were "unsure" who was to blame.