AP-Univision Poll: Immigration Splits Americans

Alan Fram, Yahoo! News, May 13, 2010

Illegal immigrants are a boon, not a burden to the country, a resounding majority of Hispanics say, according to an Associated Press-Univision Poll that underscores sharp contrasts between the views of Hispanics and others. Most non-Hispanics say illegal immigrants are a drain on society.

In addition, most Hispanics condemn Arizona’s strict new law targeting undocumented immigrants, while only 20 percent of non-Hispanics oppose it.

The survey also found some remarkably similar views between Hispanics and non-Hispanics on the complex, emotional issue of immigration, which has gained prominence this election year. About two-thirds of both groups consider illegal immigration a serious problem, only a quarter of each think the Arizona law will ease the state’s troubles and the largest portion of both populations think current limits on legal immigration should be left alone.

Even so, much of the poll–which questioned 901 Hispanic adults and was compared to a separate survey of the general population–reads as if soundings were taken of two distinct worlds, an impression fortified by follow-up interviews.

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According to the poll, 74 percent of Hispanics said the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants mostly contribute to society. Just 35 percent of non-Hispanics agreed, with 60 percent saying illegal immigrants are largely a drain.

Some 67 percent of Hispanics said they oppose the Arizona statute. Just 20 percent of non-Hispanics oppose it, with 45 percent favoring it and 30 percent neutral. {snip}

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Underlining the divergent reactions to the Arizona law, seven in 10 Hispanics hope their states don’t enact similar statutes, more than double the non-Hispanics who feel that way.

Nearly nine in 10 Hispanics said a way should be found to help illegal immigrants already in this country become citizens, an idea that wins support from just over half of non-Hispanics. Some 62 percent of non-Hispanics–compared with just 24 percent of Hispanics–think being in the U.S. illegally should be considered a serious crime.

By 73 percent to 46 percent, more Hispanics than others said police crackdowns on illegal immigrants are likely to target Hispanics unfairly. {snip}

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While both groups agree that illegal immigration is a serious problem, 83 percent of non-Hispanics think the federal government should be doing more about it, while 52 percent of Hispanics voice that view.

Hispanics trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle immigration, while it’s the other way around for non-Hispanics. Still, only 45 percent of Hispanics approve of how President Barack Obama is dealing with the issue–one of the few national issues where they rate his performance relatively poorly.

In other findings:

o Almost nine in 10 Hispanics say illegal immigrants take jobs Americans don’t want, compared with six in 10 non-Hispanics.

o More than a quarter of Hispanics say they would not have had documentation proving their status had they been stopped by police the day they answered the poll, about double the rate for non-Hispanics.

o Most Hispanics say only the federal government should enforce immigration laws, while a majority of non-Hispanics want local police involved.

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