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Public support for Biden-Harris border policies collapses

More than two-thirds say the administration's executive actions are increasing illegal immigration, and 55% said Biden should have left Trump's immigration policies in place.

Updated: June 29, 2021 - 11:06pm

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The Biden administration has struggled to find a solution to the growing immigration crisis at the southern border, and public perception reflects that, according to new polling data.

A new Harvard/Harris poll found the overwhelming majority of voters say immigration is a serious issue that has gotten worse under the Biden administration and that more should be done to address it.

According to the survey, 80% of voters see immigration as a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" issue, and 64% said the Biden administration should "issue new, stricter policies to reduce the flow of people across the border." Only 36% said Biden should continue his current policies.

In the poll, 68% of voters said the Biden administration's executive actions are increasing the amount of illegal immigration, and 55% said he should have left in place former President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

"The president's border policies are plainly unpopular with a large swath of the electorate, but the administration just seems to be doubling down on them," Andrew Arthur, a legal expert at the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote. "If people knew how bad Biden's immigration policies really were — both at the border and in dealing with criminals in the interior — they likely would have been a whole lot worse."

The polling comes as Biden struggles to get his infrastructure deal through Congress and takes increasing heat about his administration's handling of the southern border.

Federal data show a spike in illegal immigration this year. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol encountered 101,000 illegal immigrants attempting to enter the country in the month of February. That number jumped to 172,000 in March. Those figures have continued to climb since and remain well above the numbers from the same time last year.

Those stats have fueled Republican efforts to turn voters against Biden and other Democrats.

Democrats have worked for years to turn Texas into a purple, or even a blue state, to nab its electoral votes, but Biden's handling of the border hasn't helped the cause in the Lone Star State. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released this week showed that 57% of Texas voters disapprove of Biden's handling of immigration and border security.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who Biden tapped earlier this year to head up the immigration issue, for the first time visited a border facility in El Paso, Texas, last week after increasing pressure.

Harris has taken heat for months for her handling of the border crisis. A group of House Republicans called on Biden to replace Harris as head of the immigration issue before she announced her visit to the border earlier this month.

"This has been a trip that also is connected with the very obvious point: If you want to deal with a problem, you can't just deal with the symptom of the problem," Harris said of her trip. "You gotta figure out what caused it to happen."

Harris has consistently tried to broaden the immigration issue to include reasons why people are fleeing nations like Guatemala and Mexico, beyond the traditional border security conversation.

Republicans were quick to jump on the latest polling as evidence that they have the support of voters on immigration.

"According to a new Harvard/Harris poll, 80% view illegal immigration as a serious issue right now," said Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican party. "Americans see through Biden and Harris' gaslighting on the border crisis."

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