Migrants await processing by immigration authorities after crossing the US-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas, December 20, 2023

A vast majority of people in the U.S. believe the soaring of crossings in the southern border of the country is a grave problem and that the Biden administration is not doing a good job addressing it, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center.

Overall, 78% of respondents said that the large amount of migrants seeking to enter the country is either a crisis (45%) or a major problem (32%).

The number of Republicans who call the issue a crisis is much higher than the Democrats who do so (70% and 22%, respectively), but a very low percentage don't think it's an issue at all: only 7% of Democrats said this, the rest calling it a major problem (44%) or a minor one (26%).

A similar amount of people consider that the current administration is not handling the issue well, with 34% saying it's doing a "somewhat bad" job and 45% saying it's doing a "very bad" job. When delving into party affiliation, almost 90% of Republicans and 73% of Democrats considered this to be the case.

Same as in the previous category, most Republicans were inclined to give the strongest answer, with 71% saying the Biden administration's job is "very bad." Democrats took the less critical stance, with 23% saying it's doing a "very bad" job and 49% saying it's "somewhat bad."

The reasons given to explain why the situation is concerning varied. But the two that came up the most were economic burdens to the country tied to the issue and potential security vulnerabilities. In this case, those who gave this answer focused on crime, terrorism and drugs.

More than half of respondents (57%) said that the large influx of migrants leads to more crime. 85% of Republicans believed this to be the case, in contrast with 31% of Democrats.

What could help improve the situation at the border? Pew Research Center

Asked about what policies could contribute to improving the situation, the answers varied based on party affiliation, but 60% of all respondents said that increasing the number of immigration judges and staff to make decisions on asylum would help. Moreover, 56% said that creating more opportunities for legal immigration would help as well.

Other proposals were met with support from sympathizers of one party and skepticism from others. "For example, a 56% majority of Democrats say that adding resources to provide safe and sanitary conditions for migrants arriving in the U.S. would be a positive step forward. Republicans not only are far less likely than Democrats to view this proposal positively, but far more say it would make the situation worse (43%) than better (17%)," the survey showed.

The most divisive proposal, predictably, was building or expanding a wall along the border. "72% of Republicans say substantially expanding the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico would make the situation better. Just 15% of Democrats concur, with most saying either it would not make much of a difference (47%) or it would make things worse (24%)."

Border security is at the center of the national conversation at the moment, with both parties at odds on the steps needed to address the increasing amount of crossings.

After Congress' Republicans rejected a bipartisan bill that included $15 billion, claiming the compromise was insufficient after likely presidential contender Donald Trump blasted it, Democrats have gone on offense.

However, as broad measures continue to look unlikely, even the current status quo could be at risk. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could release some 15,000 migrants from facilities near the border and not take in new ones amid massive cash shortfalls, Axios reported on Thursday.

In need for $700 million Congress has failed to provide, the agency could cut key parts of its budget aimed at dealing with the influx of migrants.

Should the situation continue without changes, ICE could run out of funds for detention by July. There are currently 38,000 people in its custody.

Fewer new hires, less arrests, detentions and deportations of immigrants, and decreased investment in technology to detect migrants and fentanyl smuggling are just some of the expected outcomes in the absence of this bill.

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