Feb 15, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Most Americans say the feds are doing a bad job with the migrant crisis

Asylum seekers sit inside a tent as they wait to be processed by border patrol agents at an improvised camp near the US-Mexico border on February 7, 2024 in Jacumba Hot Springs, California.

Asylum seekers sit in a tent as they wait to be processed by border patrol agents at an improvised camp near the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 7 in Jacumba Hot Springs, Calif. Photo: Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images

About 80% of Americans say the U.S. government is doing a bad job dealing with the large number of migrants at the border, including 45% who say it is doing a very bad job, a new survey finds.

Why it matters: Infighting, blame-shifting and indecision has plagued the Biden administration's struggle with the border crisis, Axios exclusively reported this week.

Details: About 78% of respondents say the large number of migrants seeking to enter the country at the U.S.-Mexico border is either a crisis (45%) or a major problem (32%), according to the Pew Research Center survey.

  • Republicans (70%) are much more likely than Democrats (22%) to describe the situation as a "crisis."
  • 60% of Americans say that increasing the number of immigration judges and staff to make asylum decisions more quickly would improve the situation.
  • 56% say creating more opportunities for people to immigrate to the U.S. legally would make the situation better.

State of play: The GOP-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate are at an impasse over any new immigration reform or border control measures.

  • Former President Trump, the likely Republican nominee for president, has urged Republicans not to pass any immigration legislation this year so Biden can't take credit.
  • GOP governors like Greg Abbott (R) of Texas are using the National Guard to stop people from entering the country.
  • The Biden administration has long defended its response to the crisis, saying the president has taken several measures to mitigate the number of crossings while pushing for bipartisan legislation to address the issue.

Between the lines: The reality at the U.S.-Mexico border is unprecedented, with 2.5 million crossings of people from all over the globe last year alone.

  • Many people have survived journeys not just through Mexico but from Central and South America and beyond.

Zoom in: A majority of Americans (57%) say the large number of migrants seeking to enter the country leads to more crime compared to fewer (39%) say this does not impact crime in this country.

  • Republicans (85%) overwhelmingly say the migrant surge leads to increased crime in the U.S. A far smaller share of Democrats (31%) say the same.

Reality check: Communities with a high share of immigrants often have lower-than-average violent crime rates, especially those on the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Several communities along the U.S.-Mexico border saw homicide rates fall last year to levels that are well below the national average, according to an Axios analysis of the latest FBI crime data.

Methodology: The report is based on the responses of 5,140 adults from Jan. 16-21, 2024 on Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel (ATP).

  • The margin of sampling error is ±1.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
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