By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – In a voice verging on tears after rising to a shout, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) lashed out at the Trump administration’s family separation policy during a Washington hearing.

“In the United States of America we will not intentionally separate children from their parents,” he shouted. “We will not do that. We are better than that.”

It’s unsurprising to hear that from a Democratic congressman. And President Trump, speaking to a business crowd, seemed unmoved. “We can’t let people pour in,” he said.

But after winning election and pursuing a hard-line immigration agenda in office it is surprising to learn the Trump era is making voters more sympathetic to immigrants, not less.

gettyimages 961767294 Keller @ Large: Trump Losing Immigration Battle?

Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds the percent of voters who think illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay here and apply for citizenship has grown since President Trump took the oath, from 59% in early 2017 to 67% today.

While the president has lately been stressing the threat of violent immigrant street gangs (“they’re not people, these are animals” has become a staple of his stump speech), that hasn’t persuaded voters of the wisdom of his broader deportation policies.

Fifty percent of them say they’ve been too aggressive, a 6% percent jump in just the past four months.

And while most Americans polled here say they want legal immigration rates to stay the same, there’s been a recent uptick in the number who say we should let more in from 24% to 30%, with barely half that number saying we should let fewer legal immigrants in.

immigration1 Keller @ Large: Trump Losing Immigration Battle?

Children in a detention facility. (WBZ-TV)

And what of the president’s signature border wall, as yet unfunded by Mexico or Congress?

Forty-two percent backed it on election day; 39% still do.

Democrats would love it if voters go the polls with images in mind of crying children pried from their parents by Ebenezer Trump. And the more Latino voters turn out, the better for them.

But they have to be careful.

As we saw in 2016, there are lots of precincts in America where empathy for illegal immigrants is – likely still – a losing hand.

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