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.
“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.