Poll Finds Partisan Divides in Views of ICE, Justice Department

(CN) – Most federal agencies enjoy majority support from the American public, but a new survey found divisions along party lines in opinions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Justice in light of national political disputes.

In a Pew Research Center survey of 2,004 adults between Sept. 5 and 16, 90% viewed the U.S. Postal Service favorably, followed by the National Park Service at 86%, NASA at 81% and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 80%.

In fact, all of the agencies in the survey saw favorability ratings above 50% except two – respondents were evenly split about the Department of Education at 48%, and 54% viewed ICE unfavorably.

The low favorability rating for ICE was notable due to a stark division between Democratic and Republican respondents in the survey. While 70% of Republicans favored ICE, only 19% of Democrats felt the same.

Broadly speaking, ICE has been the focus of the ongoing debate about American immigration policy, as it has been tasked by the Trump administration with detaining and vetting individuals who crossed the southern border illegally or have sought asylum in the U.S.

The partisan divisions among respondents were largely reflective of the divisions between lawmakers and political figures. For example, President Donald Trump has characterized the influx of immigrants at the border as an “invasion” of dangerous people, such as human traffickers and MS-13 gang members.

In contrast, Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary and Democratic presidential candidate, has called for the decriminalization of illegal border crossings in favor of civil penalties as a facet of his immigration platform. In the same vein, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has slammed detention facilities at the border as “concentration camps.”

Though the Justice Department and the FBI both enjoyed majority support in the survey, there was a lack of consensus between Democrats and Republicans about those two agencies.

For example, 61% of Republican respondents viewed the Justice Department favorably, and 49% of Democratic respondents felt the same.

Partisan views of the agency have inverted since the beginning of the Trump administration. Democratic support for the Justice Department fell from a peak of 74%, whereas Republican support rose from 47% in the same time period. Overall, 54% of respondents were favorable to the Justice Department in the latest survey.

While 70% of overall respondents had a favorable opinion of the FBI, the numbers broke down to 77% support among Democrats and 66% from Republicans.

Republican support for the FBI has actually rebounded since the beginning of the Trump administration and after the end of special counsel Robert Mueller investigation’s into Russian election interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction by President Trump.

The survey indicates that partisan divisions arose around agencies involved in the biggest national political controversies, including immigration policy and the Mueller investigation, but Americans showed notable consensus in their favorable views of other agencies.

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