AP-NORC Poll: Border Woes Hurt Biden Approval on Immigration

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AP-NORC Poll: Border Woes Hurt Biden Approval on Immigration AP-NORC Poll: Border Woes Hurt Biden Approval on Immigration Central American migrants walk through Houston's airport during a transfer on March 30 after their release from a U.S. government holding facility in McAllen, Texas. (ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

WILL WEISSERT and HANNAH FINGERHUT Monday, 05 April 2021 08:06 AM

More Americans disapprove than approve of how President Joe Biden is handling waves of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, and approval of his efforts on larger immigration policy falls short of other top issues — suggesting it could be a weak point for the new administration.

A new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also shows that solving the problem of young people at the border is among Americans' highest immigration priorities: 59% say providing safe treatment of unaccompanied children when they are apprehended should be a high priority, and 65% say the same about reuniting families separated at the border.

Former President Donald Trump built his presidency around tough policies that expanded and fortified border walls, made it harder for people fleeing drug violence and other desperate circumstances in Mexico and Central America to seek U.S. asylum, and separated immigrant families.

Biden has tried to seize political momentum on the issue by promising a more humane and orderly system, but his administration has struggled to cope with rising numbers of migrants coming to the border, especially unaccompanied children.

Overall, 40% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of children reaching the nation's southern border without their parents, compared with just 24% who approve. Thirty-five percent don't have an opinion either way.

“I don’t know how to politically correctly say this: I do feel that, because there’s this new administration, that people feel that they can come to the country,” said Mindy Kiehl, a 40-year-old real estate agent in Erie, Pennsylvania, who otherwise approves of Biden's handling of the presidency so far.

“I get it. They’re seeking refuge," Kiehl added. "But bringing these children, it’s not good for the children, it’s not good for the families. I don’t know how that’s going to solve the problem.”

Biden said at a recent news conference that “we’re sending back the vast majority of the families that are coming.” But his struggles on the issue go beyond unaccompanied minors.

Just 42% of Americans say they approve of how the president is handling immigration in general, and a similar share, 44%, say they approve of how he’s handling border security. Both are significantly lower than the 61% of Americans who say they approve of how Biden is handling his job overall and fall short of the president's rating on some other issues, including his response to the coronavirus pandemic and managing of the economy.

That gap comes despite the White House endorsing the most ambitious overhaul of the nation's immigration system in a generation on Biden's first day in office. It has stalled in Congress, though, and Republicans and even some top Democrats say passage will be difficult.

The plan would provide an eight-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally, but the poll shows doing so isn't high on the public's priority list. Only 29% of Americans overall, including 42% of Democrats and 14% of Republicans, called legal status for people in the country illegally a high priority.

Additionally, only a third of Americans each say that allowing refugees to come to the U.S. or expanding “guest worker” programs should be high priorities.

The gap between Biden’s overall approval rating and his handling of immigration crosses party lines. Seventy-four percent of Democrats and 10% of Republicans approve of Biden’s handling of immigration, compared with 96% of Democrats and 22% of Republicans who approve overall.

The difference also comes across racial and ethnic groups. Overall, 92% of Black Americans, 67% of Hispanics and 52% of white Americans say they approve of how Biden is handling his job. On immigration, 74% of Black Americans but only 50% of Hispanics and 34% of white Americans say they approve.

Jack Henes, a retiree in Sebastian, Florida, said Biden hasn’t handled immigration as well as some other hot-button issues while calling what's happening on the U.S. southern border an “administrative nightmare.”

While awaiting the larger legislative package, the Democrat-controlled House has passed smaller-scale reforms that face uncertain futures in a Senate split 50-50. Biden also has used executive actions to attempt to roll back many Trump administration immigration policies but has been criticized for failing to do enough fast enough.

Others feel he's already gone too far.

“My concern is that President Biden has allowed the world to feel it's OK to just come on in,” said Matthew Behrs, a Trump supporter in Wisconsin.

The poll shows many Americans rank some of the major goals of the Democrat proposal as moderate priorities instead of high ones, suggesting Biden lacks a clear mandate for how best to proceed on the issue, potentially hurting his leverage with Congress.

And many want to see efforts to step up enforcement be part of the conversation: For 53%, increasing security at the border is a high priority. Some 47% of Americans also say the federal government should make strengthening policies to prevent immigrants from overstaying their visas a high priority.

Fewer, roughly a third, say penalizing companies that hire immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and deporting immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be high priorities.

The poll also finds Americans are more likely to favor than oppose providing a way for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay legally, 53% to 24%, with 22% saying they are neither in favor nor opposed. Still, just 41% call extending legal protections to so-called Dreamers a high priority. A plan approved by the House but awaiting Senate action seeks to do just that.

Biden has now assigned Vice President Kamala Harris to work with Central American countries to try to address the root causes of illegal immigration. Henes, the retiree, suggested that Biden has given the problem to Harris as a way of buying himself some time — but that it hasn’t helped.

“They’re still in the huddle,” Henes said. “They’re not ready to call a play.”

The AP-NORC poll of 1,166 adults was conducted March 26-29 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

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Buttigieg: AOC infrastructure plan ‘bolder’ than Biden’s

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - MARCH 30: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg attends an event titled “Transforming Rail in Virginia” at the Amtrak-VRE station in March 30, 2021 in Alexandria, Virginia. The Transforming Rail in Virginia program will cost about $3.7 billion and will double Amtrak service and double Virginia Railway Express (VRE) service along the I-95 corridor, as well as work toward the separation of freight and passenger lines. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 7:10 PM PT – Sunday, April 4, 2021

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg commented on New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) push to make the infrastructure bill bigger. On Sunday, Buttigieg said AOC’s proposal was bolder than the already proposed $2 trillion plan.

He said this was part of the bargaining process as Republicans have asked for a smaller bill and progressives have asked for something larger. Recently, AOC urged Joe Biden to push for a $10 trillion bill, which she claimed to be “realistic.” However, Buttigieg argued the bill has more than enough funding to develop America’s infrastructure.

“There are obviously a lot of people on the other side of the aisle saying, ‘This is too big, too bold,” Buttigieg stated. “And then, some of our friends on our side of the aisle are saying: It should be even bolder.’ Again, that’s a natural part of this conversation and this process, but let me stress, this is the biggest investment in American job creation proposed or, if achieved, since World War II. This is a huge deal.”

Republicans criticized the infrastructure bill for allocating only five percent of its budget for traditional infrastructure maintenance.

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Stanford Holds Off Arizona 54-53 to Win Women’s NCAA Title

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Stanford Holds Off Arizona 54-53 to Win Women's NCAA Title players smile as the pose with the championship trophy

Stanford players celebrate with the trophy after the championship game against Arizona in the women's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday. (AP/Morry Gash)

DOUG FEINBERG Sunday, 04 April 2021 08:52 PM

Tara VanDerveer hugged each of her Stanford players as they climbed the ladder to cut down a piece of the net.

It took 29 years, but VanDerveer and the Cardinal are NCAA women's basketball champions again.

Haley Jones scored 17 points and Stanford beat Arizona 54-53, giving the Cardinal and their Hall of Fame coach their first national championship in 29 years on Sunday night.

“Getting through all the things we got through, we’re excited to win the COVID championship," VanDerveer said. ”The other one was not quite as close, the last one. But we’re really excited. No one knows the score, no one knows who scored, it’s a national championship and I’m really excited to represent Stanford. It’s a great team. We did not play a great game today, however. But if we can win, not playing as well as we need to, I’m excited."

It wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch with both teams struggling to score and missing easy layups and shots, but Stanford did just enough to pull off the win.

Stanford (31-2) built a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter before Arizona (21-6) cut it to 51-50 on star guard Aari McDonald's 3-pointer.

After a timeout, Jones answered with a three-point play with 2:24 left. That would be Stanford's last basket of the game. McDonald got the Wildcats with 54-53 with 36.6 seconds left converting three of four free throws.

“I just owe it all to my teammates, they have confidence in me when I don’t have confidence in myself,” said Jones, who was honored as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. “I saw they needed me to come up big and I did.”

The Cardinal, after another timeout couldn't even get a shot off, giving Arizona one last chance with 6.1 seconds left, but McDonald's contested shot from the top of the key at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

“I got denied hard. I tried to turn the corner, they sent three at me. I took a tough, contested shot and it didn’t fall,” said McDonald, who fell near midcourt, slumped in disbelief while the Cardinal celebrated.

It's been quite a journey for VanDerveer and the Cardinal this season. The team was forced on the road for nearly 10 weeks because of the coronavirus, spending 86 days in hotels during this nomadic season.

The team didn’t complain and went about their business and now have another NCAA championship. Along the way the Hall of Fame coach earned her 1,099th career victory to pass Pat Summitt for the most all time in women’s basketball history.

Now the 67-year-old coach has a third national title to go along with the ones she won in 1990 and 1992. That moved her into a tie with Baylor's Kim Mulkey for third most all time behind Geno Auriemma and Summitt.

VanDerveer had many great teams between titles, including the ones led by Candice Wiggins and the Ogwumike sisters — Nneka and Chiney, but the Cardinal just couldn't end their season with that elusive win in the title game until Sunday night.

It was the first women’s basketball championship for the Pac-12 since VanDerveer and Stanford won the title in 1992. The last time a team from the conference was in the title game was 2010 when the Cardinal lost to UConn. That game was also played in the Alamodome — the site of every game in this tournament from the Sweet 16 through Sunday’s championship game.

The entire NCAA Tournament was played in the San Antonio area because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Stanford had history on its side, Arizona has been building under coach Adia Barnes, who was the fourth Black woman to lead her team to the championship game, joining Carolyn Peck, Dawn Staley and C. Vivian Stringer. Peck and Staley won titles.

Barnes starred for the Wildcats as a player in the late 90s and came back to her alma mater five years ago. She guided the team to the WNIT title in 2019 and led them to their first NCAA title game ever. This was the team's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2005 — although the Wildcats would have made the NCAAs last season had it not been canceled by the coronavirus.

The Wildcats started the season No. 7 in the poll and moved up to as high as sixth — the best ranking ever in school history —for a few weeks.

McDonald, who followed her coach from Washington as a transfer, has been a huge reason for the team's success. The 5-foot-6 guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare two-way players in the game who can make an impact on both ends of the court.

She struggled against the Cardinal, finishing with 22 points while going 5-for-20 from the field.

McDonald got the Wildcats on the board hitting a 3-pointer, but then Stanford scored the next 12 points. The Cardinal led 16-8 after one quarter.

Arizona got going in the second quarter and took a 21-20 lead before Stanford scored 11 straight points, highlighted by Lexie Hull's four-point play. The Cardinal led 31-24 at the half. McDonald missed nine of her 11 shots in the first half.

The Wildcats were trying to be only the fourth team to trail by double digits and win a championship.

These teams met twice during the regular season and Stanford rolled past Arizona both times, winning by double digits in each game.

TIP-INS:

Sunday night’s game was the first with two teams from west of the Mississippi playing for a title since 1986. … Notre Dame had the biggest comeback of any team in the NCAA title game rallying from 15 down to win the 2018 title on a last-second shot by Arike Ogunbowale.

STRUGGLING AGAINST STANFORD

Barnes has beaten VanDerveer just twice in her career as both a player and coach at Arizona. She lost seven of eight playing for the Wildcats in the late 90s. The lone victory came in her senior year on a last-second shot off a pass from Barnes to teammate Reshea Bristol, who hit a 20-footer for the win in 1998. As a coach she had lost 10 of the 11 previous matchups before Sunday with the only victory coming in overtime on Feb. 28, 2020.

GOP Senator blasts infrastructure bill for removing 2017 tax cuts

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) is seen in the Senate Reception room as the Senate takes a short recess on the fifth day of the Senate Impeachment trials for former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on February 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate will hear closing arguments and possibly vote on whether to convict former President Donald Trump for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. (Photo by Greg Nash - Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). (Photo by Greg Nash – Pool/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 5:05 PM PT – Sunday, April 4, 2021

Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker (R) suggested Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill was not meant to pass with bipartisan support. While speaking with NBC, Wicker said the removal of President Trump’s signature 2017 tax cuts was enough to lose all Republican support.

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) asks a question during an oversight hearing to examine the Federal Communications Commission on June 24, 2020 in Washington,DC. - The hearing was held by the Senate Committee for Commerce, Science, and Transportation. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN NEWTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Senator Roger Wicker. (Photo by JONATHAN NEWTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The senator said raising taxes will make it more difficult for states to restore their economies amid the pandemic. He added, Biden’s tax increase will not only affect corporations, but small businesses too.

“When you talk about big businesses and you say we should raise the tax rate from 21 percent corporate rate to 28 percent,” Wicker said. “Let me just tell you, that’s going to cut job creation in the United States.”

Wicker said he is willing to work with Democrats to produce a more bi-partisan plan and even named Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as a potential colleague.

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