(W.E) – President Joe Biden’s handling of unaccompanied children arriving at the border is opposed by more people than those who believe he is doing a good job managing the surge, according to a new poll that highlights how the issue is overshadowing his first months in office.
It comes as preliminary arrest numbers at the U.S.-Mexico border reveal the highest monthly level in more than 20 years, with agents apprehending more than 180,000 migrants.
The Biden administration is avoiding using the term “crisis” to describe the influx, but a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll reveals the damage done to a president who promised a more humane immigration policy.
The poll found that 40% of respondents disapproved of Biden’s handling of children who arrive at the border without parents, compared with 24% who approve.
“Most Americans think reuniting parents and children who were separated at the border and providing safe treatment to these unaccompanied children should be high priorities for the federal government,” the survey concluded. “About half say increased security at the U.S.-Mexico border should be a key concern for Biden’s immigration agenda.”
Some 59% said providing safe treatment for unaccompanied children should be a high priority. Almost two-thirds said reuniting families should also be a high priority.
Biden has enjoyed high ratings from voters since taking power. The new poll found 61% of respondents said they approved of his handling of the job, with an even more positive take on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“While President Biden is getting high marks for how he is handling his job overall, the public is less supportive of his approach to immigration, border security, and particularly the influx of unaccompanied children seeking asylum,” the poll concludes.
The issue has bedeviled the Biden administration in its early months. The president has assigned Vice President Kamala Harris to work with Central American nations to address the push factors that are driving immigrants north toward the United States.
The White House has been under intense pressure to allow journalists to document the conditions in which unaccompanied minors are being held. The children are exempt from expulsion under a COVID-19 health order known as Title 42.
The result is cramped conditions in holding facilities.