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Big majority disapprove of separating families at border

CNN logo CNN 6/18/2018 By Grace Sparks
In this June 13, 2018 photo, Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. The family has waited for about a week in this Mexican border city, hoping for a chance to escape widespread violence in their home state. © Gregory Bull In this June 13, 2018 photo, Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. The family has waited for about a week in this Mexican border city, hoping for a chance to escape widespread violence in their home state.

Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the Trump administration's practice of taking undocumented immigrant children from their families and putting them in government facilities on US borders, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Only 28% approve.

But among Republicans, there is majority support for the policy that has resulted in an uptick of children being separated from their families.

The separations are the end result of the administration's "zero tolerance" policy of criminally charging people who cross the border illegally.

The new poll numbers follow harsh criticism that President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are receiving after implementing the new policy.

"The United States will not be a migrant camp and it won't be a refugee holding facility," Trump said Monday.

The President was meeting with House Republicans at a conference to discuss this policy. Trump has suggested it may be a bargaining tool to get Democrats to cave on immigration demands and has placed the blame on the opposing party for not doing something rather than on himself or his administration for enacting the "zero tolerance" policy.

Related: Full poll results

The controversial policy does have support in subgroups, particularly among Republicans, 58% of whom approve of it. Outside the GOP there is much less support. Just 5% of Democrats and 27% of independents approve. Sixty-two percent of the people who approve of the job Trump is doing as President also approve of the immigration policy and so do 51% of self-described conservatives.

39% approve of Trump

The President's approval has ticked slightly downward, to 39%, compared with 41% in May and 42% in March. His lowest rating in CNN polls was the 35% he reached in December 2017. The number of those who approve of his job performance strongly (28%) remains the same as in the poll in March.

Approval for the President on the issue of immigration specifically is at an all-time low in CNN polling. Only 35% approve of the way Trump is handling immigration, down from 40% in March, and 59% disapprove, up from 55%. Disapproval is highest among Democrats, liberals, those who disapprove of the job Trump is doing and nonwhite residents.

Immigration is one of the issues where Americans rate the President the poorest, with his approval on the economy at 49% and on foreign affairs and foreign trade tied at 39%, and only a third of people approving how he is handling health care policy. Out of these, immigration is the second lowest, next to health care, an issue where Democrats have historically had an advantage in polling.

More people disapprove of his handling of immigration (59%) than of any other issue.

The continuation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- the Obama-era program that defers deportation for some people brought to the country illegally as children -- is an issue that every group can agree on, with 8-in-10 saying the US should continue the policy that Trump has sought to end and allow immigrants who meet the qualifications to remain in the US. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans say the policy should continue, and so do 63% of those who approve of the job Trump is doing as President.

The CNN Poll was conducted June 14-17 by SSRS among a random national sample of 1,012 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.

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