Poll: Sympathy on Immigration, Desire for Secure Borders

Alan Gomez, USA Today, May 4, 2010

Two-thirds of Americans want the government to do a better job of securing the borders, but they are sympathetic to illegal immigrants who have been working hard and staying out of trouble, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

Eight in 10 Americans are concerned that illegal immigrants burden schools, hospitals and other government services, and 77% worry that they drive down wages, the poll finds.

Yet 77% are concerned that stricter laws would mean illegal immigrants and their families who have lived productively in the USA for years would be forced to leave.

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“On the one hand, they don’t like the idea that people are breaking our immigration laws, that it appears we have a southern border that is out of control,” Jimenez [Tomas Jimenez, a fellow at the non-partisan New America Foundation] said. “On the other hand, they think the people coming here who work hard, who have dreams of a better life, are really participating in an American tradition that is as old as this country.”

In the poll, 68% say it is extremely important or very important to halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the country, and 67% say it is extremely or very important to develop a plan to deal with about 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA. Yet 74% are somewhat or very concerned that tougher immigration laws would lead to harassment of Hispanics.

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