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Donald Trump's Child Separation Policy Is Causing His Approval Rating on Immigration to Plummet

Donald Trump's Child Separation Policy Is Causing His Approval Rating on Immigration to Plummet
U.S. President Donald Trump waves June 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The people have spoken.

In May, the Trump administration unveiled a new zero tolerance policy for all immigrants entering the United States without prior authorization. The move may appeal to President Donald Trump's base, but the negative ramifications are now evident in a new CNN Trump job approval poll.

Trump's approval rating, specifically related to immigration, dropped 5 percentage points in just one month to hit a new all-time low.


Voters were asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling immigration?" When asked May 2-5, Trump received an approval rating of 40 percent, with 55 percent disapproving and 5 percent with no opinion.

But as of June 14-17, after Trump's new immigration zero tolerance policy, those numbers shifted. 35 percent now approve of the president's job on immigration, 59 percent disapprove with 6 percent without an opinion.

Trump's approval showed a drop in almost every category, not just immigration. His ratings also fell in how he handles the economy, foreign affairs and foreign trade. His rating on handling health care policy remained constant at a 33 percent approval of Trump's job performance.

The president's overall job approval rating also fell from May to June from 41 percent down to 39 percent. His disapproval rating rose from 53 to 54 percent.

His ratings of strong approval for his job performance remained steady at 28 percent, Trump's base, whose strong approval hovered between 24 to 28 percent since August of 2017. Strong disapproval during the same period hovered between 45 to 48 percent.

Voters were asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?" They were then asked if they felt strongly or moderately about their choice.

Overall approval ranged from 35 to 42 percent with over half of all voters disapproving of Trump at rates between 54 to 57 percent since August 2017.

In addition to questions on Trump's job performance, two questions related to immigration were asked.

On Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the poll asked, "As you may know, a U.S. government program allows some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the U.S. without risk of deportation. To qualify, immigrants had to be under the age of 30 as of 2012, have no criminal record, and be a student, in the military or have earned a high school diploma. Do you think the U.S. should:" with the option to continue or end the policy.

Voters remained steady at 80 percent saying DACA should continue.

On the new Trump zero tolerance policy, voters were asked, "As you may know, the Trump administration has changed its policy toward immigrants who are detained at the U.S. border for coming into the country illegally. More of them are being criminally charged and sent to jail even if their children are with them and, as a result, there has been a significant increase in the number of young children who have been separated from their parents at the border and placed in government facilities. In general, do you approve or disapprove of this?"

Only 28 percent of voters approved of Trump's new immigration policy that causes families to be separated. That is an exact percentage match with those who strongly approve of Trump's job performance proving his small strong support base is unlikely to disapprove of anything he does.

But 67 percent, over two-thirds of voters, disapprove of Trump's zero tolerance policy. This number exceeds the president's overall disapproval rating, which currently sits at 54 percent, meaning even some of his supporters disapprove of his new policy.

What exactly is the new policy doing to gain such disapproval?

The new Trump policy means instead of treating asylum seekers who voluntarily surrender or families with minor children or pregnant women as civil immigration cases and transferring them to civil court, the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions treats them all as criminals and remands them to jail awaiting criminal court proceedings.

Because of this decision by President Donald Trump enacted upon advice from Stephen Miller, approximately 2,000 children were separated from their parents beginning in May. Children cannot be placed in adult jails or prisons with their families so they have to be separated under this new policy.

The Trump administration policy change caused overcrowding and a crisis of where to house all the children being taken from their families. They're now proposing a tent city in the Texas summer heat to handle the overflow.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon requested access to a former Walmart where some of the children are being housed. After he was refused access, but made the trip to Texas anyway, a brighter spotlight was shined on the effects of Trump's zero tolerance policy.

The Department of Health and Human Services, tasked with finding housing for all the children, then allowed reporters to tour the facility, but not to take pictures or video. Subsequent video was officially released showing facilities detaining the children and an audio tape of crying children was leaked.

The warehousing of the children, affected by Sessions new marching orders and the actions of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's agents at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), quickly drew criticism which only grew after the video and audio went public. People around the world as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) made statements condemning Trump's new policy.

Since public outcry began, the Trump administration tried everything possible to deflect blame for their new policy. Some try to blame nonexistent laws, Democrats and even President Barack Obama for the Trump policy change. Others have cited the Bible as justification for the policy. Nielsen initially claimed the policy did not even exist, but quickly changed her tune.

But voters in the United States took note of the policy change and are giving credit for the warehoused crying caged children where the credit is due: on the shoulders of the president.

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