Opinion polls show broad support for tough Arizona immigration law
Public opinion polls released this week found overwhelming support for measures like Arizona's immigration law. But protests, lawsuits, and calls for boycotts would say otherwise.
Two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s new immigration law – and the promise of more to come – represent the latest in a surge of outrage over the first-of-its-kind measure to crack down on illegal immigration. The lawsuits follow high-profile protests, calls for boycotts, and a travel advisory from Mexico urging its citizens to steer clear of Arizona.Skip to next paragraph
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But findings from three opinion polls released in the past two days seem to counter the anger and outrage being expressed in and about Arizona's move:
• A Gallup poll concludes that more than three-quarters of Americans have heard about Arizona's new immigration law, and of these, 51 percent say they favor it and 39 percent oppose it.
• An online Angus Global Monitor poll found 71 percent of respondents in favor of requiring state and local police to determine a person's residency status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that the person is an illegal immigrant, as well as arresting people who are unable to provide documentation to prove they are in the US legally. Also, 53 percent of respondents would make it a crime to hire day laborers off the street.
• A Zogby Interactive poll of 2,108 adults conducted from April 16-19 found broad support for major immigration reform and immigration regulations that are more restrictive. “79 percent do not agree that illegal aliens are entitled to the same rights and basic freedoms as US citizens,” said the poll.
These results reflect another kind of anger over illegal immigration, says Jonette Christian, founder of Mainers for Immigration Reform. "The people are angry and confused – but they're not totally out to lunch," she says. "They know that something really big and bad has been happening to their country – and [they] never asked for it."
The immigration polls' findings should be considered carefully, observers say, because the glaring spotlight on complex issues like Arizona's immigration law can oversimplify and remove important dimensions from them.
“Polling has limited value in determining how to address complex problems,” says Ben Johnson, director of the American Immigration Council. “Very few people understand the complexities of immigration law, and there is a lot of confusion about how and why people are here illegally.”
It doesn’t surprise Mr. Johnson that a majority of people would support "making it a crime to transport someone who is an illegal immigrant."