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U.S. immigration: A by-the-numbers look at who's in favour of detaining kids

A closer look at the day's most notable stories with The National's Jonathon Gatehouse: U.S. immigration policy causing rift, but American support for Trump is up; pot poised for Canadian legalization; there are now more than 1 billion guns scattered around the planet - here's who has most of them

Newsletter: A closer look at the day's most notable stories

Protesters demonstrate against the separation of migrant children from their families in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles on Monday. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.


  • A solid majority of Americans think Donald Trump's policy of separately incarcerating children and parents who have been caught trying to cross the U.S. border is unacceptable
  • The federal government appears set to legalize recreational marijuana, perhaps as early as this afternoon
  • There are now more than 1 billion guns scattered around the planet, the vast majority of them in the hands of civilians and criminals
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U.S. immigration by the numbers

Americans don't agree on much these days, but a solid majority think that Donald Trump's policy of separately incarcerating children and parents who have been caught trying to cross the U.S. border is unacceptable.

A CBS News poll found that 67 per cent fundamentally disagree with the White House's "zero tolerance" drive that has seen more than 2,300 kids taken from their mothers and fathers and held, often inside chain-link pens, at detention centres along the Mexican frontier.

Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new 'zero tolerance' policy by the Trump administration, are seen Monday lined up beside the tents where they're being housed near the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
Although it is Democrats (90 per cent opposed) and independents (66 per cent against) who are most outraged.

Republicans are less outraged, with 39 per cent calling the policy unacceptable and almost 20 per cent saying they are still making up their minds.

There's also something of a consensus that people who came to the United States illegally as children deserve a break under the law.

A new Pew Research Centre survey says that 73 per cent of Americans now favour giving so-called Dreamers permanent legal status, with only 20 per cent opposed to such a deal. The support again tilts towards Democrats and independents, but 54 per cent of Republicans say they are onboard with the idea — and there's not a single GOP age or education subgroup where a majority rejects the notion.

Children of detained migrants play soccer at a newly constructed tent encampment seen through a border fence near the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry in Tornillo, Texas, on Monday. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)
But that's where America's common ground on immigration ends.

The Pew survey found a pronounced split on Trump's plan to build a "big, beautiful wall" along the Mexican border, with 74 per cent of Republicans in favour and 83 per cent of Democrats opposed. Overall, 56 per cent of Americans are against the idea, while 40 per cent support it.

And even refugees are controversial in the current climate, with another poll in May finding 51 per cent of Americans saying the country has a responsibility to welcome them, versus 43 per cent saying there is no such moral or legal obligation. The percentage of Republicans who believe in accepting refugees has dropped from about one-third to 19 per cent since Trump took office.

Two female detainees sleep in a holding cell on Monday. Children are separated from their families by age group and gender, and hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin, Pool/The Associated Press)
Meanwhile, a Gallup survey from March found that 58 per cent of Americans say they worry a "great deal" or a "fair amount" about illegal immigration, versus 41 per cent who worry "only a little" or "not at all."

A January poll by the same firm showed that seven out of 10 Republicans, and half of Democrats, are unhappy with current U.S. immigrations levels — for very different reasons. Dissatisfaction among GOP supporters has actually dropped 16 per cent since Barack Obama left office, while Democratic unhappiness with the system has increased by exactly the same amount.

Americans seem to believe that immigration has a net benefit to their country, with 71 per cent calling it "good," versus 23 per cent "bad," in a poll from June 2017. But the same survey found that Trump's rhetoric about foreign gangs, murderers and rapists resonates, with 45 per cent of respondents saying that immigration makes crime "worse," as opposed to the 43 per cent who said that it doesn't have much effect.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on immigration at Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, NY, on May 23. As of Monday, Gallup had Trump's approval rating at 45 per cent, the highest since the week he took office. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
The fear of the "other" is a powerful force in contemporary America, despite — or perhaps because — of the rapid changes the country is undergoing. According to the latest census data, 14 per cent of U.S. residents are now foreign-born, up from 11 per cent in 2000 and not far below the historical peak of 15 per cent way back in 1890.

And in a deeply divided nation, playing to your base has benefits.

As of yesterday, Gallup had Trump's approval rating at 45 per cent —the highest it has been since the week he took office.

Pot poised to go legal

The federal government appears set to legalize recreational marijuana, perhaps as early as this afternoon.

After a vote in the House of Commons yesterday, all that stands between Canadians and guilt-free toking is final passage in the Senate and Royal Assent.

A man smokes pot during the annual 4/20 marijuana celebration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 20. If Bill C-45 clears the last hurdles before Parliament begins its summer break at the end of this week, pot will become legal across Canada sometime in September. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)
It's not guaranteed — Parliament rejected several of the Senate's proposed amendments to the legislation, and the members of the Upper Chamber could still be persnickety and punt the bill back with yet more changes. But there's a sense that almost everyone involved believes the debate has gone on long enough.

If Bill C-45 does indeed clear the last hurdles before Parliament begins its summer break at the end of this week, pot will become legal across Canada sometime in September.

And it will mark an end to one of the country's most-enduring political debates:

A flag with a marijuana leaf flies during a rally in support of legalizing marijuana on Parliament Hill In Ottawa. (Donald Weber/Getty Images)
Marijuana was criminalized in Canada in 1923.

No one can say just how many people have been convicted for its use and possession over the past 95 years.

In 2016 alone — well after the government signalled its intention to legalize pot —17,773 Canadians were charged with possession.

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Arming the world

There are now more than 1 billion guns scattered around the planet, the vast majority of them in the hands of civilians and criminals.

The Small Arms Survey, a global firearms monitoring group based in Geneva, Switzerland, published its latest reports on gun ownership yesterday, estimating that civilians now possess 857 million weapons — legally and illegally — a 32 per cent hike from their 2006 study.

A further 133 million weapons are in military arsenals and 22. 7 million guns are owned by law enforcement agencies.

A baby looks up at a firearms display at the National Rifle Asssociation's annual convention on May 6 in Dallas. Americans purchased at least 122 million new or imported firearms between 2006 and 2017. (Loren Elliott/AFP/Getty Images)
"It is clear that global civilian holdings are growing, with much, but not all, of the increase attributable to rising ownership in the United States," the survey group concludes.

It notes that Americans purchased at least 122 million new or imported firearms between 2006 and 2017.

With 393,300,000 guns, the U.S. leads the world in both total number and per capita ownership — 120.5 firearms per 100 residents.

By comparison, Yemen, which is in the throes of a three-year civil war, has 52.8 guns per 100 people. Iraq has 19.6 weapons for every 100 residents. Japan and Indonesia both have less than one weapon per 100 people.

The U.S. leads the world in both total number and per capita gun ownership, at 120.5 firearms per 100 residents. (Loren Elliott/AFP/Getty Images)
And it's not just that Americans have more guns, they are also becoming more heavily armed.

By 2012, semi-automatic rifles accounted for 13 per cent of all U.S. gun purchases. And a 2016 survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation — a firearms advocacy organization — found that 42.3 per cent of American hunters and target shooters reported owning at least one AR-15 style assault weapon.

India has the second-highest number of weapons, at 71.1 million, followed by China with 49.7 million guns.

Canada is tied with France for 11th spot, with 12.7 million firearms in each nation.

The report covers 230 countries and territories, drawing on data from 133 civilian gun registries and using surveys for 56 other nations.

Men test machineguns at the Eurosatory Defence and Security international exhibition in Villepinte, France, on June 11. (Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images)
The weapons owned by the world's 177 militaries are similarly concentrated in the hands of a few, with 43 per cent of the global total located in the arsenals of Russia (30.3 million) and China (27.5 million.)

Ten countries account for 93.3 million military guns, or 70 per cent of the known world total. Since there have been at least 175 million modern military-grade rifles manufactured as of 2015, the presumption is that there are tens of millions more guns in hidden stockpiles.

Police and other law enforcement agencies own the remaining 22.7 million guns, according to the survey group. That's an average of about 1.2 firearms for each of the 20 million or so peace officers worldwide. Russia has the most armed cops, followed by China, India, Egypt and the United States.

A few words on ...

Rising sea levels:

Quote of the moment

"As you know, there are a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die. These include Wall Street short-sellers, who have already lost billions of dollars and stand to lose a lot more. Then there are the oil & gas companies, the wealthiest industry in the world — they don't love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power & electric cars. Don't want to blow your mind, but rumor has it that those companies are sometimes not super nice."

- Tesla CEO Elon Musk  warns his employees via email that someone has been carrying out an "extensive and damaging sabotage" campaign against the company.

Elon Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

What The National is reading

  • United Nations says 68.5 million people displaced in 2017 (Deutsche Welle)
  • Police identify 2 suspects in Scarborough playground shooting (CBC)
  • Transatlantic relationship at risk, says NATO chief (Guardian)
  • 'They have stormed the airport': Yemen's war intensifies in Hodeidah (CBC)
  • China urges U.S. to be more 'rational' on trade (Xinhua)
  • 'Call me Mister,' says France's Macron in manners lesson (Euronews)
  • Why being left-handed matters for mental health treatment (Science Daily)

Today in history

June 19, 1963: Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space

The Soviet Union wasn't just winning the space race in June 1963, it was dominating. First, cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky blasted off on his way to setting a new record — 82 orbits around the Earth over five days. Then he was joined by a second capsule carrying Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. By the time of this Norman DePoe broadcast, she had completed three days and 48 orbits — more than all the U.S. astronauts combined at the time — and parachuted back to Earth, safe and sound but for a bruised nose. The Americans dismissed her accomplishment as a "big propaganda plus, but little else." It would 19 more years until the next woman — another Russian — left the Earth. And one more year after that until Sally Ride became the first American woman in orbit.

Valentina Tereshkova becomes first woman in space in 1963

4 years ago
Duration 8:56
When the Soviet Union sends a female cosmonaut into orbit, observers dismiss the achievement as a propaganda stunt.

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Jonathon Gatehouse

CBC Investigative Journalist

Jonathon Gatehouse has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, covering seven Olympic Games and authoring a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey. He works for the national investigative unit in Toronto.