Americans are now more likely to trust Republicans to handle immigration, and less likely to support legislation backed by most Democrats giving illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
These shifts in public opinion come in the wake of a spring and summer surge in Central American children illegally crossing the southwest border.
Republicans seized on the influx to argue that U.S. borders are too porous, and they blamed what they consider to be Democratic leniency toward illegal immigration for persuading children to make the journey.
The result: voters’ trust in Democrats has fallen, as has their willingness to consider legalization for undocumented.
The new survey finds that 35% of people saying the Republican Party would do a better job on immigration, vs. 27% for Democrats. That represents a big swing from December, when 31% favored Democrats and 26%, Republicans.
The poll also finds support for immigration legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship way down since spring. In April, 64% favored such a proposal, with 35% opposed. This month, support dropped to 53% and opposition rose to 45%–a swing of more than 20 percentage points.
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