Sixty-one percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling illegal immigration, with 57 percent failing him on his overall performance in the White House, according to survey results released Wednesday.
Only 40 percent of the adults approve of Obama's overall job performance, according to the Polling Co./Woman Trend survey
. That compared with only 32 percent approving of his handling of the immigration crisis.
The Republican polling firm, based in Washington, developed its results from two surveys — one each conducted in July and earlier this month. The July 16-20 survey involved 1,001 Americans, while the Aug. 7-10 poll queried 1,008 adults.
Both surveys have a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
The results come as Obama is soon expected to take executive action to address the crisis created by the more than 63,000 illegal minors who have been detained at the U.S. border since Oct. 1.
The administration estimates that more than 90,000 could be taken into custody by the end of next month. So far, more than 174,000 immigrants overall have been detained, according to news reports.
Among the orders Obama may issue are an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that he created by executive action in 2012 and the possibility of granting work permits to as many as 6 million illegal immigrants.
He is expected to announce his orders after Labor Day.
Rather than address the crisis through executive action, 74 percent of the adults surveyed said that Obama should work with Congress to develop an immigration policy that first benefits Americans. Only 21 percent said that Obama should act alone.
"Many have suggested that a 'pen and pad' executive solution is outside the law, but is most certainly against the president's political interests," Kellyanne Conway, the firm's president and CEO, said in a statement.
The survey also found that 65 percent wanted the illegal minors who have been apprehended at the border to be returned to their native countries. That compared with only 22 percent who said that they should relocated to communities within the United States.
Seventy-five percent said they wanted stronger enforcement of current immigration laws, with 58 percent backing a three-pronged strategy advocated by GOP legislators that includes stronger enforcement, repatriating illegal immigrants, and restricting Obama's ability to act unilaterally.
"Although the administration and their media allies have pushed Obama's deportation record, few Americans are buying the idea that Obama is enforcing immigration law strongly," Conway said.
If U.S. companies can’t find workers, 75 percent of adults said they should raise wages and improve working conditions to attract native-born employees instead of hiring illegal immigrants.
Conway called this finding "the inverse of the oft-repeated phrase, 'illegal immigrants do the jobs that Americans don't want to do.'"
"These workers should have a fair opportunity to do the jobs that illegal immigrants currently do," she said.
In addition, 80 percent said U.S. businesses should be required to recruit and train more native-born workers from groups with high unemployment rates.
"'Raise the pay' is the rallying call for these voters, who believe there are plenty of Americans to do the work and that better pay and more training is the elixir for labor shortages," Conway said in the statement.
In response to the survey results, Sen. Jeff Sessions said they proved that Americans want less immigration and stronger enforcement.
"After decades of record legal immigration and a shrinking middle class with stagnant or falling wages, Americans want to see immigration reductions — not increases," the Alabama Republican said. "These workers will be filling jobs throughout the economy at lower wages."
In other results, the Polling Co./Woman Trend survey found:
- Fifty-eight percent said plenty of Americans can be hired for jobs in construction and the service industries instead of immigrants.
- Seventy-six percent believe that foreigners should not be allowed to overstay their visas once they have expired.
- Fifty percent believe that it is unfair for millions of illegal immigrants to be able to seek jobs in the United States while millions of Americans are out of work.
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