Because, it all depends how you ask the question.
As you may be aware, there are headlines all over the place this morning about how Americans overwhelmingly oppose President Trump’s actions that lead to separation of children and parents at the border.
But the questions are leaving out that doing things differently than Trump is doing them will increase the number of illegal immigrants in the country. The questions are simply being posed in the manner of, Do you support separating kids from parents?
To be clear, there is no “policy” of separating children from parents. The only thing Trump has decided to do is enforce the law more aggressively so that those charged with illegal entry but seek asylum must have their cases adjudicated before being released from prison, since they’ve been charged with a crime – illegal entry. The concern, of course, is that many people are falsely claiming the need for asylum. And under current law, you can’t keep kids in prison with their parents.
Those who do not claim asylum and plead guilty to illegal entry are quickly reunited with their children and deported.
Now, look closely at what I wrote above. Trump’s “policy” of enforcing law means that people are charged with a crime. If he didn’t do that, which previous administrations often didn’t do, those who claim the need for asylum are simply released while their cases are investigated. And then maybe they disappear. It’s what’s known as “catch and release,” and it’s one reason we have 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. That’s what Trump is trying to address.
Now, here’s why these polls, including ones I’ve seen by CBS, CNN, Quinnipiac, which all show about two-thirds of Americans opposing separating parent and children at the border, are also all fake. None of them inform the respondent that if these people are not charged with crimes, they will simply be released. That is a very important fact that is probably intentionally being omitted.
Here is Quinnipiac’s question, for example.
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?
Now how misleading is that? It’s like asking, Fred killed Bob. Do you support this? Well, no. But if you mention that Bob was also trying to kill Fred, then your results might change a bit. Don’t you think?
If you provide an alternative which says that they will be released – not to mention that a certain number will never show up for their court date – you will have a different response. But I doubt the pollsters, or the news organizations that use and buy their polls, want a different response.