Bound for the U.S., about 450,000 migrants travel through Mexico every year and many do so by illegally riding on top of a freight train, known as “The Beast” or “The Death Train.”
Nearly half of Hispanics responding to a survey about the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America supporting having authorities speed up the handling of their cases.
And that includes deporting them faster, noted the report on Pew Research survey.
Pew found that 47 percent of Latinos support expediting the processing of the children’s cases, which under current practice can drag on months or years before a decision about whether they qualify for political asylum or another means of staying in the United States.
About 49 percent of Latinos say they support the current system.
The U.S. public in general, however, backs speeding up the processing of the kids’ cases at higher percentage. Roughly 53 percent of Americans say they support expediting the process compared to 39 percent who favor the current system, according to Pew.
The Border Patrol detained more than 57,000 unaccompanied children from October through June, the vast majority from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Refugee resettlement workers who have interviewed some of the children say they are generally fleeing violence and poverty. Others, including critics of the Obama administration, say that failure to be more stringent on border issues has encouraged people to try to enter the United States illegally.
An Associated Press-GfK poll, meanwhile, shows that Americans are wary of granting refugee status to children crossing the U.S. border to flee strife-torn countries in Central America.
The poll found 53 percent of Americans believe the United States has no moral obligation to offer asylum to people who escape violence or political persecution, while 44 percent believe it has that responsibility.
And more than half, 52 percent, say children who say they are fleeing gang violence in Central America should not be treated as refugees, while 46 percent say they should.
Among Hispanics, 66 percent say children crossing the border who claim they are fleeing gang violence should be treated as refugees. Slightly fewer, 54 percent, said they see a moral obligation to accept people fleeing violence or persecution.
The responses of the public in general expose a partisan rift, with 70 percent of Republicans saying Central American children should not be treated as refugees compared with 62 percent of Democrats who believe they should. On whether the United States has an obligation to accept people fleeing violence or political persecution, 66 percent of Republicans say it does not and 57 percent of Democrats say it does.
The Pew poll showed that Latinos share the general public’s disappointment in how President Obama has handled the surge of Central American children.
About 46 percent of Latinos say they disapprove, 34 percent say they approve, while 56 percent of Americans in general disapprove and 28 percent approve.
As for the need to pass a comprehensive immigration reform, Hispanics are more likely than the general public to say it’s important for Congress to act.
Three-quarters (75 percent) of Hispanics say it’s “extremely” or “very important” to pass significant new immigration legislation this year, compared with 61 percent of the general U.S. public.
The Pew poll did not ask what kind of reform respondents would like to see.
The significant percentage of Latinos who frown upon Obama’s performance regarding the unaccompanied minors did not affect their faith in Democrats to handle immigration better in general.
About 54 percent said Democrats would do a better job than Republicans, compared with 40 percent of the overall public.
Paula Stapleton, who is raising boys, ages 9 and 3, in Clinton, Arkansas, supports asylum or refugee status for children, but not for their parents or adults who come alone. She worries that children who are turned back to their home countries will end up in gangs, making the problem worse.
"The United States is a big enough country to take in children and give them a chance," said Stapleton, 33, a political independent. "It can't take everybody, but we can take their children."
Mercedes Brand, a naturalized U.S. citizen in suburban New Jersey who emigrated from Peru 45 years ago, is in the minority among Hispanics. The youngest of her four U.S.-born children is saddled with college debt and she worries that the United States can't take care of its own, let alone newcomers.
"This country is built with immigrants, but those immigrants who came from Europe and all over the world didn't demand all the things that they are demanding now," said Brand, a 60-year-old Democrat who works as a Spanish interpreter for a health care provider. "When my grandchildren are old enough to collect Social Security, there may not be enough money. There may not be enough for me."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.