Most in State Oppose Immigration Reform

Rafael Lorente and Ruth Morris, Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), Mar. 5

WASHINGTON—Two-thirds of likely voters in Florida would oppose a plan to allow some undocumented immigrants to live and work legally in the United States, according to a new poll conducted for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Florida Times-Union.

That puts them at odds with President Bush, who has advocated a guest-worker program that would allow at least some undocumented immigrants the right to live and work legally in the United States.

The survey also found that likely voters oppose—by more than a 3-to-1 margin—letting states issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, aligning them with many Republicans in Congress who are pushing for a law that would prevent undocumented immigrants from using licenses for identification purposes.

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In the Sun-Sentinel poll, Hispanics, who made up 15 percent of the respondents, were no more supportive of pro-immigration changes than other groups polled. Only two in 10 Hispanics favored a law allowing undocumented immigrants to work legally in the country. Only two in 10 favored issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. And only 38 percent of Florida’s Hispanics who are likely voters said they thought immigration helped the United States.

Jeff Garcia, a political consultant who has worked for Democratic candidates in Florida, said it was no surprise to see the poll’s Hispanic respondents falling in line with mainstream views since the survey was limited to likely voters. At least half of registered Hispanic voters in the state are Cuban—a group that tends to hold views more in line with established immigrants, or non-immigrants, than with more recent immigrants.

He said Hispanics who vote are likely to oppose guest worker programs “strictly out of self-preservation. Do you want more laborers fighting for the same jobs?” he asked.

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