The Dallas Morning News

Dip in illegal crossings may help boost Biden

Poll shows support for changing how many allowed into the U.S.


SAN DIEGO — A sharp drop in illegal border crossings since December could blunt a Republican point of attack against President Joe Biden as the Democratic leader moves to reshape a broken asylum system that has dogged him and his predecesso­rs.

A new poll by The Associated PRESS-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows some support for changing the number of immigrants and asylum-seekers allowed into the country. About 4 in 10 U.S. adults say the level of immigratio­n and asylum-seekers should be lowered, while about 2 in 10 say they should be higher, according to the poll. About a third want the numbers to remain the same.

Among Republican­s, the poll shows about two-thirds say there should be fewer immigrants and asylum-seekers, while only about 1 in 10 say there should be more.

Democrats are split: About a quarter say the number of immigrants should increase, a quarter say it should decrease, and about 4 in 10 say it should remain the same. They are slightly more supportive of asylum-seekers specifical­ly, with 37% supporting an increase, 26% backing a decrease, and 36% saying the number should remain the same.

Omar Reffell, a 38-year-old independen­t voter in Houston, said that he supports immigratio­n but that news coverage of “caravans of people trying to cross the border” sends the wrong message to migrants.

“People think that they just show up at the border, come across, there is not going to be any repercussi­ons,” Reffell said. “I’m not against immigratio­n. I think immigratio­n is good for the country, but it has to happen in a very orderly manner or it puts a lot of stress, especially on the border states being able to provide resources.”

Dan Restrepo, a top White House adviser on Latin America during Barack Obama’s presidency, believes the U.S. public will accept high levels of immigratio­n — if a systematic process can be followed.

The challenge in managing migration “is the sense of chaos and disorder that can be created by images of overwhelme­d processing facilities and the like at the physical border,” he said. “It’s less the numbers and more the imagery” that bothers voters.

The administra­tion is angling to have the new rule take effect before the pandemic-related limits on asylum are expected to end May 11, though legal challenges appear imminent.

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