A study published by the Pew Research Center shows that most Americans disapprove of Biden’s border policy. This new survey comes weeks after the Biden administration confronted one of the firsts key challenges of his presidency, as the number of land border encounters in 2021 has been significantly higher than those in decades.
This year’s immigrant surge on the southern border has proved to be a particularly tricky challenge for the Biden White House, especially after pictures were released showing the overcrowded spaces where the Border Patrol authorities were holding the detained. Although the crisis has receded a little from the forefront of the news cycle, the situation at the border remains complicated. According to the data provided by CBP, there were 178,622 enforcement encounters in April 2021 alone (a small increase from March), a gigantic number when compared to the height of the 2018 border crisis during the Trump administration when 144,116 encounters were registered in May 2020.
The Pew Research poll shows that these figures have taken a toll on the public’s perception of Biden’s approach to solving the border crisis. 68% of adult Americans consider that the government has made either a “somewhat bad” or “very bad” job on dealing with the rise of migrants reaching the border.
Although the numbers differ by political affiliation, even the Democrats’ numbers present a troubling sign for Biden with 56% of Democrats having a negative opinion of the government’s handling of the crisis, a position they share with 86% of Republicans.
These terrible numbers for the Biden White House also go beyond ethnic/demographic lines, with a different survey conducted by the Pew Research Center to Latinos in the United States showing that only 33% of those surveyed think that Biden is doing a good job dealing with the overall increase of children and families seeking asylum in the United States.
Americans disapprove of Biden’s border policy, but they don’t agree on much else
The poll also showed some areas of agreement over the larger issue of immigration. Most Americans (69%) agree that undocumented immigrants who are already staying in the United States should be allowed to get a path towards citizenship if they fulfill certain requisites, 82% of Americans also think that there should be more resources destined to border patrol agents on the border.
Nevertheless, there are vast disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on many of the crucial subjects about immigration the country faces. 78% of Republicans are more likely to think that it is important to make it harder for asylum seekers to get legal residence in the United States, while only 39% of Democrats think the same.
Partisanship is also a crucial factor in how to view the importance of illegal immigration, as almost 72% of Republicans think that illegal immigration is a very big problem, while only 29% of Democrats think the same. Democrats are also more likely to support (79%) more assistance to Central American countries than Republicans (40%)
Partisan differences on immigration are neither new nor unexpected, as both parties have constructed fairly distinctive rhetoric and public image on the issue throughout the years. What is interesting, however, is that the public has generally had a very negative evaluation over Biden’s handing over the crisis, with almost 60% of them disapproving of his handling of the crisis.
Such intraparty discomfort with the President’s approach to the crisis might bring some significant political difficulties for the Democratic Party. Mainly, it gives the Republican Party an effective line of attack against the administration, a weapon the GOP will be more than willing to use in order to gain a Congressional majority in the 2022 midterm elections.
Republicans have criticized VP Harris, Biden’s choice to lead a task force on the border issue, as she has yet to make a public appearance on the border to personally inspect the situation on the ground. A fact that former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, has pointedly reminded in a tweet posted on May 4th.
While some Democrats would like to downcast the importance of the issue, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki even refusing to call the crisis a crisis. The fact is that Biden’s handing over the situation has been widely panned by the majority of the population, which could be an electoral liability if his rivals are skillfully enough to remind the voters of it in 2022.