Most Americans say the waves of children crossing into the United
States from Central America are refugees fleeing danger at home. And they
say the United States should support these children while reviewing their
cases, not deport them immediately.
These largely sympathetic views come from all points along the
political and religious spectrum, according to a new survey by the Public
Religion Research Institute on July 29.
Democrats (80 percent), independents (69 percent) and Republicans (57
percent) favor offering support to unaccompanied children while a process to
review their cases gets underway.
Most major religious groups say the same, including white evangelical Protestants
(56 percent), white mainline Protestants (67 percent), minority Protestants (74
percent), Catholics (75 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (75 percent).
(The survey sample of 1,026 adults was not large enough
to capture the views of smaller religious groups, such as Jews, Muslims or
“It makes a difference that we are talking about children facing
violence and harm,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI. “The value of keeping
families together cuts across all party lines.”
As a result, most Americans can make a “pretty clear distinction
between the problem of the children arriving from Central America and the
problem of illegal immigration in general,” Jones said.
The survey found that overall attitudes toward immigrants are
hardening somewhat, with a slight upward shift in the numbers who say they are
a burden, not an asset, to the United States.