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Must Read, Must Watch Re Child Refugee Emergency

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New PRRI Poll: Americans View Central American Kids Fleeing Violence as Refugees Deserving Full & Fair Proceedings;

Sonia Nazario Provides Reminder on “The Daily Show” Why We Must “Do the Right Thing”

Take five minutes to read this poll and watch this TV clip, and you’ll get a sense for how Americans are viewing the child refugee situation Congress is supposed to tackle this week.

New polling from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released today finds that the American public views the Central American kids as refugees and wants the nation to provide full and fair proceedings, rather than expedited deportations.  The PRRI poll also finds continued strong support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Below are highlights from the PRRI poll:

  • Americans View Central American Kids as Refugees:  As the topline summary notes, the poll finds 69% of Americans say “children arriving from Central America should be treated as refugees and allowed to stay in the U.S. if authorities determine it is not safe for them to return to their home countries.  In contrast, 27% say that children arriving from Central America should be treated as illegal immigrants and deported back to their home countries.”
  • Broad Support for Full and Fair Legal Proceedings: As the topline summary notes, the poll finds that 70% of Americans “say the U.S. should offer shelter and support to children coming from Central America while beginning a process to determine whether they should be deported or allowed to stay.” Additionally, 71% “agree that while children from Central America are waiting for their cases to be heard, they should be released to the care of relatives, host families or churches, rather than be detained by immigration authorities.”
  • Americans’ Strong Support for Pathway to Citizenship Remains Intact: Regarding preferred policy for the undocumented immigrants living in the United States, the PRRI poll finds that the child refugee issue has not eroded Americans’ strong support for a pathway to citizenship – 58% of respondents support a pathway to citizenship, while 17% support a path to legal status but no citizenship, and 22% support identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants.

Additionally, journalist Sonia Nazario appeared on last night’s episode of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and provided a sharp reminder that these kids are leaving Central America and engaging in a perilous journey due to deplorable violence and fear, not because of U.S. immigration policy.

Nazario, the author of a 2003 book on one Honduran boy’s perilous journey to the United States and a recent, powerful New York Times “Sunday Review” piece titled  “The Children of the Drug Wars,” returned to Honduras recently and reports of “children living in enormous fear…we need to see these children for what they are…they are refugees.”  Nazario told Stewart, “it is an extraordinary moment for us to stand up and do the right thing for these children…[the children] need to be given a full, fair hearing, with an attorney by their side.”  Watch the segment here.