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The public widely rejected Trump's family separation policy, polls found

Tribune Washington Bureau logoTribune Washington Bureau 6/21/2018 David Lauter
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WASHINGTON — Several polls taken in recent weeks have found widespread public rejection of the Trump administration's now-abandoned policy of separating children from parents when families are caught crossing the border illegally.

But at least one survey found that President Donald Trump's core supporters — those who voted for him during the GOP primaries in 2016 — were supportive of the idea. That suggests, as some of Trump's advisers have said, that the policy was popular with his voters even as it was clearly political trouble for Republicans in some swing congressional districts.

A poll by Quinnipiac University, taken June 14-17, found that the public opposed separating parents from children by 66 percent-27 percent. Republicans in that poll supported the policy 55 percent-35 percent, while Democrats opposed it 91 percent-7 percent.

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"As you may know, some families seeking asylum from their home country cross the U.S. border illegally and then request asylum. In an attempt to discourage this, the Trump administration has been prosecuting the parents immediately, which means separating parents from their children. Do you support or oppose this policy?" that poll asked.

A survey by YouGov for the Economist magazine asked a simpler question and got similar results.

"Do you approve or disapprove of separating families from each other, including minor children, when the adults are arrested for crossing the border into the United States without proper documentation?" that poll asked.

That poll found that Trump voters from the 2016 primary supported separation, 68 percent-23 percent. Those who voted for some other Republican in the primaries were more closely divided, with 50 percent supporting and 42 percent opposed. Those who voted in a Democratic primary opposed the plan with 16 percent in support and 78 percent against.

That poll was taken June 3-5, before the policy became the subject of intense controversy.

Two other surveys, one by the IPSOS polling firm for the Daily Beast website and one by CNN, found similar results — slightly more than a quarter of the public in favor of the policy, and about two thirds opposed.

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