1.16.19 Americans Do Not Want President’s Border Wall

Americans Do Not Want President’s Border Wall

What are American attitudes on the on the border wall? “Are Americans equally divided? A recent in-depth survey reveals, as have other polls, that while a clear majority opposes the wall, attitudes differ by party,” writes Steven Kull in The Washington Post. Citing a University of Maryland poll as well as a recent PRRI spotlight, Kull argues that across party, the American public favor proposals that would restrict the hiring of undocumented coupled with proposals that would allow for more legal job opportunities for immigrants. “All this data suggests that the American public is comfortable with more than a million people a year predominantly arriving from non-European countries. Although most Americans are uncomfortable with how many people arrive undocumented, it does not appear to be because they simply do not like foreigners. Rather, most Americans want to rationalize immigration, ensuring that the process occurs in a regulated, legal fashion and that people who come in can join the economy without hurting American workers,” Kull concludes.
King Stripped of Committee Assignments 

On Monday evening, the House minority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), announced that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has been stripped of his committee assignments. The move came after mounting pressure to sanction King for making inflammatory statements about race. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King recently said to The New York TimesOther Republicans, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), called on King to resign his seat. “I think he ought to step aside and I think Congress ought to make it very clear he has no place there,” Romney told CNN’s Manu Raju. King is one of many Republicans, including President Donald Trump, who have been accused of encouraging white supremacy.PRRI data shows that a majority (54 percent) of the country, including about seven in ten black and Hispanic Americans but less than half of whites, say that Trump’s decisions and actions have encouraged white supremacist groups.
Judge Overrules Trump Administration

On Monday, a federal judge blocked a Trump-administration rule that would limit access to contraception through employer-based health insurance. This was the administration’s second attempt to implement a federal rule that would allow employers to opt out of providing contraception to female employees through their health plans, based on religious or moral objections. Hadley Heath, of the Independent Woman’s Forum writes, that the judge “found that the new rules would have burdened these states. Basically, his analysis agrees with states that, should women lose access to employer-provided birth control coverage, states would suffer economic harm as those women turned to state-based programs, either for help paying for birth control or unplanned pregnancies.” PRRI data shows that 67 percent of Americans oppose religious restrictions on contraceptive availability, including 53 percent of white evangelical Protestants, 66 percent of Catholics, 67 percent of black Protestants, and 74 percent of white mainline Protestants.
Teachers Strike in California

Over 30,000 teachers in Los Angeles County went on strike this week, asking for more pay and smaller class sizes. The strike in Los Angeles comes just months after similar, successful strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Teachers rejected a proposal by the school board that would give them a six percent salary increase and cap class sizes at 39 students. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) sent her support to the teachers on social media. “Los Angeles teachers work day in and day out to inspire and educate the next generation of leaders. I’m standing in solidarity with them as they strike for improved student conditions, such as smaller class sizes and more counselors and librarians,” she wrote. In July, former PRRI Research Assistant Molly Fisch-Friedman examined the public perspective on whether current levels of public school funding are adequate. “While about six in ten (61 percent) Democrats say lack of funding for public schools is a major problem in U.S. communities, only about four in ten (41 percent) Republicans say the same. Similarly, 42 percent of Democrats identify a lack of access to good public schools as a major problem in U.S. communities, compared to one-quarter (25 percent) of Republicans,” she wrote.
Gender-Based Refusal Case Heats Up in Alaska

The Hope Center, a Christian charity in Anchorage, Alaska, has enlisted the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in a court battle against the city and a local advocacy group. The ADF, a Christian conservative legal advocacy organization, recently represented a Colorado baker whose fight to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple reached the Supreme Court last year. According to a complaint filed with Anchorage’s Equal Rights Commission, the Hope Center recently denied someone a bed in their shelter because they were transgender, in violation of a local law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. At HuffPost, Carol Kuruvilla uses PRRI data to illuminate how most Americans feel about this topic. She writes, “Most Americans oppose religion-based service refusals, according to statistics from the Public Religion Research Institute. The organization found that a majority of members of only two major religious groups ― white evangelical Protestants and Mormons ― say business owners should be allowed to refuse service to lesbian and gay people. About 53 percent of each group supports service refusals.” According to PRRI data, 52 percent of Alaskans also opposed religiously-based service refusals.