Poll: Illegals Seen As ‘Burden’

M.E. Sprengelmeyer, Rocky Mountain News (Denver), Oct. 19

Most Coloradans still see the United States as the world’s melting pot, but three-quarters believe illegal immigrants are a “burden” on the country, a new poll shows.

Just as Congress has begun debating tougher border security measures and other reforms, a Rocky Mountain News/CBS 4 poll finds Coloradans with complex views on immigration and a harsh view toward illegal immigrants.

In the survey of 500 likely Colorado voters, 61 percent said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with a statement that “Overall, immigration is a good thing.”

But half of respondents said they “strongly agree” that “Illegal immigrants are a burden on the United States, because of their impact on things like schools, jobs, and health care.” Another 23 percent said they “somewhat agree,” for a total of 73 percent. Only twenty-six percent of respondents said they “somewhat” or “strongly” disagreed.

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When respondents were asked to rank what issues should be the highest priority for the federal government, 10 percent said illegal immigration, which tied with “job creation.” Twenty percent listed “the budget deficit.” Immigration also ranked behind “the cost and supply of energy” (18 percent), the “war in Iraq” (16 percent) and “terrorism” (14 percent).

“The fact that it pops up in the top tier of issues is a good sign, from my point of view, and should make others pay attention to it,” said Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton, who has challenged members of Congress and would-be presidential candidates to take up his hard-line crusade against illegal immigration.

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The poll shows resentment to illegal immigration cuts across ethnic and other lines, although more Republican males (18 percent) viewed the issue as the country’s highest priority. Only 11 percent of Republican women ranked it the top priority.

Among whites in the survey, 78 percent agreed that illegal immigrants were a “burden,” and so did 47 percent of Hispanics.

“That really is something we’ve felt for a long time,” Tancredo said. “There is a much higher base of support among Latino voters for immigration reform than many people think.”

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Most Arizonans think stepping up pressure on employers to verify the citizenship status of prospective employees would be the best way to rein in illegal immigration, according to a new survey.

ThinkAZ, a nonpartisan research institute, found 64 percent of those polled said requiring employers to screen applicants for citizenship would be “effective” against illegal immigration.

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  • Forty-four percent said altering the law to deny children born to illegal immigrants inside the U.S. automatic citizenship would work to stem the problem
  • Forty-two percent said a plan to limit access to public education to only U.S. citizens would be “effective” in reducing illegal immigration
  • Most respondents favored imposing severe fines on employers who hire illegal aliens; requiring public-sector employees to report illegal immigrants to the proper authorities; establishment of a militarized “no crossing” zone; and the refusal of providing publicly funded health care and social services to illegals.

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