- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An overwhelming percentage of voters say it’s better to send illegal immigrant children surging across the border back home, rather than trying to house them in the U.S., said a new Republican poll released Tuesday.

And voters also take a dim view of having President Obama act on his own to try to fix immigration policy, with nearly three-quarters saying he should instead find ways to work with Congress, according to the survey by the Polling Company Inc.

“The children-at-the-border-crisis has brought into sharp relief public opinion about immigration. Out of sight, out of mind is over,” Kellyanne Conway, the pollster, said in a memo outlining the key findings.

Polling on immigration is notoriously tricky, and Americans often say they support policies that are in conflict with one another when it comes to federal law. This latest survey, though, suggests that the surge of children coming across the border has affected the way Americans view the situation.

The poll found that a majority of voters peg immigration as either the top issue, or among the top three, that they want to hear about ahead of November’s elections.

Those that do place it that high are far more likely to take a strict stance on it, favoring sending illegal immigrants home and even calling for a reduction in legal immigration. Those who rate immigration as a lower priority issue are more likely to support boosting legal immigration, and less likely to care if illegal immigrants are sent home.

The survey of 1,001 likely voters, taken in mid-July, just as the surge of illegal immigrant children was peaking in the news, found that 65 percent said they should be sent home in order to send a signal to others considering coming. Only 22 percent said they should be housed in the U.S. to keep them safe from dangers at home.

And asked whether they supported Mr. Obama acting alone to grant tentative legal status to millions of illegal immigrants — an action the White House is considering — opposition was overwhelming: 74 percent said he should instead work with Congress, while just 21 percent said he should go it alone.