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Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Only a third of Americans approve of Biden's handling of the border crisis - but 65% say he's doing a 'good job' with pandemic, new poll finds

 More than half of Americans disapprove of President Biden’s handling of immigration while two-thirds like how he is combating the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new poll.

Since Biden came into office on January 20, his administration has had to grapple with a large influx of Central American migrants - mainly families and unaccompanied minors - who have crossed the border from Mexico.

The large spike in arrivals of undocumented and unaccompanied minors has overwhelmed Customs and Border Patrol facilities and detention centers as the federal government scrambles to arrange for shelter for teens while their asylum cases make their way through immigration courts. 



The survey conducted jointly by National Public Radio and Marist College shows that a slim majority of Americans - 52 per cent - approve of Biden’s job performance overall. Earlier this month, 49 per cent said the same thing.

The president gets the highest marks from Americans for his administration’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Overall, 65 per cent of Americans approve of Biden’s pandemic-related policies, including 30 per cent of those who voted for his opponent, former President Donald Trump, in the November 3 election.

President Biden receives high marks from voters on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a majority disapprove of his policies on immigration, according to a new NPR/Marist poll. The president is seen above at the White House on Monday

President Biden receives high marks from voters on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a majority disapprove of his policies on immigration, according to a new NPR/Marist poll. The president is seen above at the White House on Monday

Young minors who crossed the border from Mexico lie inside a pod at the Customs and Border Protection facility in Donna, Texas on Tuesday. Since Biden entered office, his administration has had to grappled with a surge of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the frontier

Young minors who crossed the border from Mexico lie inside a pod at the Customs and Border Protection facility in Donna, Texas on Tuesday. Since Biden entered office, his administration has had to grappled with a surge of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the frontier

A slim majority of Americans - 52 per cent - approve of Biden’s job performance overall, according to the survey released on Tuesday by National Public Radio and Marist College

A slim majority of Americans - 52 per cent - approve of Biden’s job performance overall, according to the survey released on Tuesday by National Public Radio and Marist College

Along party lines, 94 per cent of Democrats approve of Biden’s handling of the pandemic as do 64 per cent of independents. Among Republicans, just 34 per cent approve.

Just 28 per cent said they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the pandemic.

Since Biden entered office, vaccination distribution has increased while the pace at which Americans have been inoculated against COVID-19 has also steadily grown week by week.


But recent figures show an uptick in the number of newly diagnosed COVID-19 infections - this after a period of several weeks which saw a steady decline in new diagnoses, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Biden on Monday directly appealed to governors, state and local leaders to reinstate mask-wearing requirements if they have lifted them, and said he encouraged leaders to pause plans to further ease virus-related restrictions. 

When asked about Biden’s handling of the economy, 51 per cent of those surveyed by NPR and Marist said they approved while 41 per cent said they disapproved.

The most troublesome figure for the president continues to be his rating as it relates to public sentiment about the migrant crisis.


Young migrants lie inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by US Customs and Border Protection

Young migrants lie inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by US Customs and Border Protection

Monitored by a caretaker young unaccompanied migrants, ages 3-9, watch TV inside a playpen at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children

Monitored by a caretaker young unaccompanied migrants, ages 3-9, watch TV inside a playpen at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children

Just 34 per cent of Americans approve of Biden’s border policies while 53 per cent said they disapprove.

On the issue of immigration, Democrats overwhelmingly support Biden with two-thirds saying they approve. But among independents, that figure drops to 27 per cent.

Just five per cent of Republicans said they approve of Biden’s handling of the issue.

In late January, Biden’s overall approval rating on immigration stood at 38 per cent - a four-point improvement from its current standing.

The Marist poll shows slight dips for the president when compared to a poll released on Sunday by ABC News/Ipsos, which found that 72 per cent approve his handling of the pandemic.

The Ipsos survey also found that 60 per cent of Americans approved of Biden’s handling of the economy.

That survey echoed the Marist poll which showed clear majorities of both independents (54 per cent) and Republicans (89 per cent) disapproving of Biden’s handling of the border situation.

The Marist survey of 1,309 adults - 1,167 of whom are registered voters - was conducted between March 22 and March 25. 

The US is immediately expelling immediately the majority of migrants who cross the southern border, though a high number of unaccompanied children, which the Biden administration has said it will not expel, have created logistical challenges. 

More than 17,000 unaccompanied children were in US custody as of Monday, about 12,000 with the Department of Health and Human Services and the rest with Customs and Border Protection. 

On Monday, 446 children entered CBP custody but only 229 went to HHS. 

The Border Patrol is apprehending far more children daily than HHS is taking, leading to a severe backlog. 

Voters largely approve of Biden's handling of the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The image above shows Janis Daemmrich (right) getting her second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a local pharmacy in Austin, Texas on Tuesday

Voters largely approve of Biden's handling of the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The image above shows Janis Daemmrich (right) getting her second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a local pharmacy in Austin, Texas on Tuesday

The Border Patrol is not supposed to detain children for more than three days, but HHS lacks space. 

On Tuesday, the Biden administration finally allowed journalists inside its main border detention facility for migrant children for the first time, after weeks of shutting the media out and releasing their own photos.

The tour on Tuesday revealed a severely overcrowded tent structure in Donna, Texas, where more than 4,000 migrants, including children and families, are crammed into pods.

The youngest are kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping, because the facility is at 1,700 per cent capacity and the dormitories are full.

Border guards say 14 per cent - roughly one in seven - of the migrant children have tested positive for COVID while photos also show detainees being treated for lice, amid fears of an outbreak.

Two thousand children have already overstayed their 72-hour legal limit and at least 39 have been stuck in the cramped quarters for two weeks.

CBP allowed two journalists from The Associated Press and a crew from CBS to tour the facility in the Rio Grande Valley.

It is the same shelter visited by Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican from Texas, and another 18 Republicans over the weekend - but this is the first time the press has been given a full tour.


The shelter has a capacity of 250 but more than 4,100 people were being housed on the property Tuesday.

Most were unaccompanied children processed in tents before being taken to shelters run by HHS and then placed with a family member, relative or sponsor.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security says there could be twice as many migrants crossing the southern border this year, as smugglers continue to guide families across the Rio Grande and thousands make the journey north from Honduras and Guatemala.

DHS figures suggest crossings could double from 400,000 last year to up to 800,000 by the end of 2021 - even after Biden said last Thursday that the situation was 'normal' and 'happens every year'.


DHS expects approximately 500,000 to 800,000 migrants to arrive as part of a family group during the 2021 fiscal year that ends in September, according to a data analysis by The Washington Post.

That could be double over fiscal year 2020 when 458,088 people were encountered on southern border, according to CBP data.

Additionally, internal administration documents leaked to Axios show unaccompanied minor apprehensions are expected to surge as high as 26,000 in September.

This month, approximately 16,000 minors crossed the border, which was a record high.     

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