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AP poll: 53% of Americans don't want to grant refugee status to border kids

A new poll from the Associated Press released on Tuesday is using math to prove what most Americans already know. The recent wave of Central American children and teens flooding across the US-Mexico border has created a maelstrom of controversy across the United States, and a majority of Americans believe it's not our controversy to deal with.

Nearly 60,000 children and teens have flocked north to the US-Mexico border, asking to be granted asylum.
Photo courtesy of thenation.com

The poll from AP doesn't contain particularly revelatory information, honestly. According to the numbers, 53 percent of Americans "believe the United States has no moral obligation to offer asylum to people who escape violence or political persecution." When questioned about the specific story at hand, 52 percent of Americans also feel as though the United States has no obligation to provide refuge for the incoming Central American kids.

AP's study isn't the first conducted to suggest that America would like to eject the border kids, it's just the most honest. Several polls have been conducted in the wake of the "humanitarian crisis" that indicate that the majority of the American public would like to be rid of the nearly 60,000 incoming children. In fact, the Associated Press poll is actually on the low end of those polls. This poll, for example, saw 77 percent of Americans in favor of deportation.

However, there have been just as many polls that indicate a similarly strong sentiment in support of offering asylum to these kids. This one, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, found that 69 percent of Americans are in favor of letting the children stick around. So clearly, these numbers can be easily manipulated depending on which part of the country you call and what time of day you start dialing.

More than anything, like nearly all issues with which America is confronted these days, dealing with the Central American children has become more about toeing party lines than about dealing with the storm at the border. The AP poll stated that nearly seventy percent of the people who would deport these incoming immigrants are Republican, while 62 percent of the people who would offer asylum to the kids are Democrats.

What's so difficult about this issue is that both sides make valid points (they just make them very stupidly). For example, Republicans who claim that the border kids don't qualify for refugee status because they aren't fleeing religious or political persecution are missing the part of the rule where the United States can grant refugee status to anyone who is of "special humanitarian concern to the United States." In other words, the U.S. (and, by extension, the White House) is well within its rights to grant refugee status to anyone who they feel deserves it.

At the same time, the stated reasons for keeping these children in America are just as thin as the reasons for deporting them. Democrats seem to be relying on grand displays of moral outrage to avoid a practical discussion where these kids are concerned. Where will be able to keep these 57,000 incoming children? How much will it cost? What kind of strain will it put on our already taxed economy? It's foolhardy to gloss over the practical questions that arise when considering asylum for the border kids. However, simply because these questions don't have answers at the moment isn't grounds enough to wash our hands of these immigrants.

The border kids issue is yet another matter facing the country to which there is no easy solution, but as the leading power in the region, it falls to America to help out in some way. That may not mean asylum for these displaced children and teens. but the United States should shoulder some responsibility for these kids’ well-being. Sorry, folks, having to lead by example is just a drawback of being near the top.