Washington • A political fight over whether to allow a group of young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” to stay in the country legally has led to a budget stalemate and the first government shutdown in four years.
A new poll shows Utahns of all political stripes back such a fix. The survey by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics shows 69 percent of registered voters favor letting these young people stay. Some 26 percent opposed any protection for these immigrants.
The same poll shows that President Donald Trump’s job approval, meanwhile, remains about the same as Utah polls have shown in the past year, with 49 percent giving the president bad marks and 48 percent saying he’s doing well, the new survey shows. Only 20 percent say they strongly approve of Trump’s performance.
Republicans approve of Trump’s performance, while Democrats and independents strongly disapprove.
There’s no such clear partisan divide on the question of supporting legal protection for young immigrants who would be at risk of deportation without an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
“In Utah, the best approach is to support these Dreamers. From conservative Republicans to Democrats, they want protection for the Dreamers,” said Jason Perry, executive director of the Hinckley Institute. “To get the support of Utahns, Donald Trump is going to have to take some action. This is a unifying issue for Utahns, not a dividing one.”
National polls have shown a large majority of Americans favor some protection for the young immigrants who had no control over moving to the United States. A CBS News poll last week showed 87 percent of Americans say Dreamers should be allowed to stay if they meet certain requirements, like working or going to school.
In Utah, 61 percent of Republicans are on board with such a program, along with 87 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of unaffiliated voters. Members of Utah’s all Republican congressional delegation, such as Rep. Mia Love and Sen. Orrin Hatch, have expressed support for some legal status for immigrants who have taken advantage of DACA, as has Trump, though Republicans have not rallied around one proposal yet.
And while Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House, congressional leaders couldn’t muster enough votes to pass a new funding bill by Friday night, sending the government into its first closure since 2013. The House passed a budget bill but the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 seat majority, failed to do the same.
Most Democrats opposed the bill because it didn’t include an extension for DACA, which Trump had ended last year while saying it was up to Congress to find a solution. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, voted against the budget bill because he doesn’t favor short-term extensions.
The Tribune-Hinckley Institute poll was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates last week while Congress was still negotiating a plan to pass a budget. A previous Tribune-Hinckley poll, conducted in October, found that 72 percent of respondents thought DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in the United States.
Trump, who visited Utah in December where he met with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and dramatically shrunk the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, remains a polarizing figure in the state with Republicans largely supporting him (70 percent) and Democrats opposed (93 percent). Some 63 percent of unaffiliated voters also give Trump bad marks.
In deeply red Utah, other Republican presidents have fared far better.
“Donald Trump is maintaining his base but he’s not going up,” Perry said, noting Trump garnered about the same overall support in an October poll and similar Republican support.
Nationally, Trump’s numbers have remained in the mid-to-upper 30s.
Longtime Utah pollster Dan Jones, who conducted the survey, said Trump has held onto GOP support here especially because of his December visit, where he heaped praise on Hatch and took action on the monuments.
“Coming out here really impressed Republicans and what he tried to do for Senator Hatch and how cordial he was to the LDS leaders over at the Welfare Square,” Jones said. “But he doesn’t run as high as he does in Idaho and Wyoming.”