by Tony Lee 16 Jul 2014, 12:18 PM PDT

A majority of Americans, including a near-majority of Democrats, want the deportation process for illegal immigrants expedited.

A new Pew Research poll released on Wednesday found that 53% of Americans "think that the legal process for dealing with Central American children who cross the border illegally should be accelerated, even if that means that some children who are eligible for asylum are deported." Just 38% "support staying with the current policy, even though the process could take a long time and the children will stay in the U.S. in the interim." A Gallup poll found that illegal immigration was the "most important problem" currently facing Americans.

Under a 2008 law, illegal immigrant children from Central America cannot be deported immediately like those from Mexico and Canada. They, instead, must be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which often releases them to family members or adults with "notices to appear" at immigration hearings.

The Pew poll also found that "most Republicans (60%) and independents (56%) think legal processing of the children should be sped up even if it means some children who are eligible for asylum are deported." Even 46% of Democrats want to speed up the process, while 47% of Democrats "favor maintaining the current policy."

At least 57,000 illegal immigrant children have unlawfully entered the country since October of last year, and federal officials expect at least 150,000 more to do so in the next fiscal year. Consistent with other national polls that found nearly 60% of Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of the issue, the Pew poll found that 56% disapprove of Obama on immigration, while only 28% approve.

The poll, conducted July 8-14, has a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.