Americans are abandoning their support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants


This side of paradise. (Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg News)

A record number of unaccompanied minors have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border so far this year, and that's likely shifting the country's opinion about immigration policy.

The majority of Americans now want the government to speed up the process by which it decides whether or not to deport undocumented workers in the country—even if it means deporting some people who would otherwise qualify for asylum, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Republicans and Independents are significantly more likely to favor expediting the process—60 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Independents want to speed it up—while Democrats are roughly evenly split—46 percent favor expedition, but 47 percent would prefer to follow current immigration policy.

Pew immigration

Whites are also a good deal more likely than blacks to favor a speedier deportation process. And Hispanics, rather surprisingly, are about split.


The most pronounced split, however, is that between the country's old and young. In fact, the older Americans get, the more likely they are to support a speedier—even if flawed—deportation process. Of Americans aged 65 years and older, 60 percent want the process to be expedited, while only 38 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 felt the same way.


 

These sentiments—those that value speed even when it comes at the expense of fairness—are only becoming more popular. Americans, overall, are actually abandoning their support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to Pew.

The public remains supportive of a broad revamp of the immigration system to allow people in the U.S. illegally to gain legal status if they meet certain requirements. But overall support for a path to legal status has slipped to 68% from 73% in February.

The drop is consistent across political lines but most pronounced among Republicans, 43 percent of which now believe undocumented immigrants should not be allowed asylum in the U.S.


"We've definitely seen some movement in the last few weeks," Mike Allison, an associate professor of political science at The University of Scranton said in an interview. "There used to be greater support for comprehensive immigration reform. A lot of that change has to do with the coverage of unaccompanied minors," he said.

Roberto A. Ferdman is a reporter for Wonkblog covering food policy, consumer business, and Latin American economics. He was previously a staff writer at Quartz.
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