Californians back Obama acting on immigrant children if Congress won't

Wed Sep 3, 2014 2:03pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama talks during a press conference at the Bank of Estonia in Tallinn, Estonia, September 3, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama talks during a press conference at the Bank of Estonia in Tallinn, Estonia, September 3, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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(Reuters) - Most Californians would support President Barack Obama's issuing an executive order to deal with the flood of immigrant children who have entered the country illegally if Congress fails to act, according to a new poll published on Wednesday.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they would favor unilateral action from the White House regarding the 63,000 unaccompanied immigrant children who have entered the country since last October, according to the Field Research Corporation, though opinions varied starkly by race and political affiliation.

The findings come just days after the president said he was committed to taking executive action on immigration issues, despite threats from conservatives who have said they may tie a must-pass budget bill to immigration policies.

The rush of minors crossing the southwestern U.S. border, many from crime-plagued Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, has pushed immigration into the national spotlight for lawmakers before Congressional elections in November.

Americans have expressed deep concerns that illegal immigration threatens U.S. beliefs and customs and also burdens the country's economy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey published last month.

But in California, three out of five Californians said the government should renew Obama's 2012 executive order that temporarily deferred deportations for illegal immigrants who were students, recent graduates or former U.S. military members, according to the Field Poll.

Some 46 percent of respondents also told pollsters they would back an executive overhaul of the country's immigration system more generally in the absence of Congressional action, compared with 36 percent who would oppose such a measure.

Democrats, Hispanics and blacks supported executive orders regarding immigration more than Republicans and whites, the poll showed.

The Field Research Corporation poll surveyed 1,280 adults during late August, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Larry King)

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