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Most Americans want better conditions for asylum seekers

While Republicans and Democrats disagree on fundamental immigration policies, they found common ground on short-term logistical solutions at the southern border, according to a survey released Monday showing a majority of Americans are critical of U.S. asylum policy.

In a Pew Research Center survey of 4,175 adults between July 22 and Aug. 4, researchers found that 65% of overall respondents said the federal government is doing a somewhat bad or very bad job of handling asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Along party lines, 84% of Democratic respondents criticized current asylum policy and 55% of Republican respondents supported it.

Though a majority of Republicans generally support the Trump administration’s policies at the border, many still called for certain changes.

For example, 83% of Republican respondents felt that it was at least somewhat important to increase the number of federal judges presiding over asylum cases, and 73% said it was at least somewhat important to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers being held in border facilities. Those numbers were 89% and 91% among Democrats, respectively.

Similarly, a 51% majority of Republicans said that more assistance should be provided to countries in Central America, from which many asylum seekers are arriving. Eighty-three percent of Democrats said the same.

Majorities of Republican and Democratic respondents want to reduce the number of asylum seekers at the border, at 90% and 61%, respectively.

Most respondents from either party also have positive views of undocumented immigrants, though the number was driven primarily by Democratic respondents.

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Overall, 77% said that undocumented immigrants fill jobs that U.S. citizens would not want, including 88% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans.

A similar number, 73%, said undocumented immigrants are honest and hardworking, and 69% said they are “no more likely” to commit crimes than U.S. citizens. Though a 54% majority of Republicans said undocumented immigrants were honest and hardworking, a 49% plurality of Republicans felt they committed more crimes than citizens.

Respondents from the two parties differed more drastically regarding broader immigration goals, such as providing legal status to asylum seekers. A 79% majority of Democratic respondents wanted to make it easier for asylum seekers to acquire legal status in the U.S., while 77% of Republican respondents wanted more restrictions on legal status for asylum seekers.

Additionally, a growing minority of Republicans did not want undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. via legal measures such as amnesty. In March 2017, 38% of Republicans felt that undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally. In the latest survey, 45% of Republican respondents felt the same.

Unsurprisingly, respondents’ views on immigration were reflective of their part affiliations, according to the data. Seventy percent of Democrats agreed with their party on immigration policy, and 77% of Republicans agreed with their party. An 82% majority of liberals agreed most with the Democratic Party, and 85% of conservatives agreed most with the Republican Party. Moderates were the most likely to agree with neither party, at 24% for moderate Republicans and 25% for moderate Democrats, but most still agreed with their party of choice.

Overall, those surveyed were mostly aligned on immigration policy depending on their political affiliations, but respondents did show a consensus on short-term immigration issues, such as court expediency for asylum seekers and conditions at border facilities.

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The logo for Corrections Corporation of America, now known as CoreCivic, hangs over the front gate of a prison complex in Eloy, where unauthorized immigrants are held under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.