A new CBS News poll conducted on June 21-22 found that nearly half of Americans surveyed agreed that if a family crossed into the United States illegally, the entire family should be sent back to their native country.
At first glance, it would have appeared the populace would have taken a softer stance; when asked whether children and their parents who had entered the country illegally and been separated by authorities should be reunited, 48% of respondents agreed that the families should be reunited.
Additionally, when asked their impressions of those crossing the border illegally, the great preponderance of respondents (78%) apparently felt that the illegal immigrants had no nefarious record of evil or were trying to take advantage of American largesse; 41% of respondents felt the families were attempting to escape crime and violence; 37% felt the families were hard-working and looking for jobs. 26% of respondents felt the illegal immigrants were looking for welfare or a handout; only 12% felt the illegal immigrants were criminals or gang members.
The perspective became a trifle less welcoming when respondents were asked whether the illegal immigrants should be punished for breaking the law or treated well; 46% of respondents opted for punishing the families while 54% said to treat them well. Still, the numbers showed a relatively even split.
But when the voters were asked what should be done with families that wanted to enter the United States illegally, the rubber hit the road. 4% of respondents said to arrest the parents and keep the children in a separate detention center; 11% said to arrest the parents but keep the families together in the detention center; 21% said to release the families temporarily and require that they report for a hearing later, but a whopping 48% agreed that the entire family should be released but sent back to their native country.