Partisan rift over refugees revealed by poll

Immigration concept.Americans are wary about the idea of granting refugee status to minors crossing the US border from Central American to escape strife-torn countries, with the majority of those surveyed in a new poll conducted by the Associated Press-GfK believing that the United States is under no moral obligation to generally accept asylum seekers.

The poll found that 53% of Americans think that the United States is not morally obligated to give asylum to people fleeing political persecution or violence, although 44% do feel that the US has this responsibility.  52% believe that undocumented immigrant minors fleeing from gang violence in Central America should not be regarded as refugees, with 46% disagreeing with this stance.

A partisan rift has been revealed by the responses.  70% of Republicans do not want immigrant minors from Central America to be treated as refugees, while 62% of Democrats think that they should.  66% of Republicans feel there is no moral obligation on behalf of the United States to accept refugees, with 57% of Democrats disagreeing with this stance.

To qualify for asylum, applicants need to prove that they have a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their nationality, race, religion, political opinion or membership of a social group, or that they have already suffered persecution.  Last week White House officials admitted that they were considering a pilot scheme to give young people from Honduras refugee status.