Five things to know from the new Associated Press-GfK poll on immigration:
1. LOTS OF BLAME TO GO AROUND. Though immigration is taking a prominent place in domestic politics, with 67 percent of Americans calling illegal immigration a serious problem for the country, legislation to overhaul the system remains stalled. Americans place more blame on Republicans in Congress (44 percent say they deserve all or a lot of the blame) than on Democrats (36 percent) or President Barack Obama (38 percent) for that lack of legislative action, according to the poll. But those figures aren't mutually exclusive. When combined, the poll reveals that 61 percent place at least some of the blame on both Obama and the Republicans in Congress, while a scant 2 percent see both the president and the GOP as generally blameless. Among independents, 72 percent place at least some blame on both sides.
2. HISPANICS SOUR ON OBAMA'S HANDLING OF IMMIGRATION. Obama's approval rating for handling immigration dipped in the new poll, with just 31 percent approving of his performance on the issue. He took a particularly large hit among Hispanics. Just 29 percent of Hispanics said they approve of the way Obama is handling immigration, down from 42 percent in May. The share of Hispanics saying immigration is personally extremely important has climbed 10 points over that same time, from 32 percent to 42 percent. But they are not following the surge in unaccompanied minors any more closely than other Americans, with about a third saying they are paying close attention to that development. Despite their dissatisfaction with Obama's performance, more Hispanics say they trust Democrats to handle the issue (40 percent) than Republicans (15 percent).
3. WHO'S TUNED IN? POTENTIAL VOTERS. Just a third of Americans say they are closely following news about the increase in unaccompanied minors from Central America crossing the southern U.S. border. But attention to this issue spikes among those who are most interested in another hot news story: this fall's midterm elections, in which Republicans are driving to gain the six seats required to control the Senate. Among those who say they have a high likelihood of casting a ballot, 46 percent are closely following the surge of immigrant children arriving in the U.S. And more than 7 in 10 who have a great deal of interest in the election say they're following it closely. These groups of tuned-in potential voters tilt a bit more Republican than the general public, and are more apt to say they trust Republicans to handle immigration.
4. CHANGE THE LAW OVER FUNDING THE CURRENT ONE. By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose the current process for handling unaccompanied children arriving in the country illegally, which requires that they stay in the U.S. to await a deportation hearing, either with a family member or a sponsor or in a shelter arranged by the government. Only 32 percent of Americans favor emergency funding to speed up the process and improve living conditions for those awaiting a hearing now, a proposal anchoring the solution the Obama administration is pressing. Far more, 51 percent, say they favor a proposal similar to one offered by some Republicans. Those Republicans have advocated a change in U.S. law so that all unaccompanied children arriving in the country can be sent back to their home countries by border patrol agents without going through a deportation hearing — matching the treatment children from Mexico and Canada currently receive.
5. GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR ... OH, NEVER MIND. A narrow majority of Americans (53 percent) say the United States does not have a moral obligation to offer asylum to those seeking an escape from political persecution or violence in their home countries. And like most political issues, this one comes with a partisan divide. Among Democrats, 57 percent say the U.S. has an obligation to accept such asylum seekers, while 66 percent of Republicans say the nation does not. Independents tilt toward Republicans on this question: 51 percent say the U.S. isn't obliged to accommodate those seeking asylum, while 39 percent say it is.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted July 24-28, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,044 adults, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. The margin of sampling error was larger for subgroups.
Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com
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