Majority Backs Arizona on Immigration Crackdown Law

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, July 10, 2012

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision to uphold Arizona’s law allowing police to check the immigration status of those they detain, an overwhelming majority of Americans say they want to see their own states enact the same kinds of laws.

The latest Washington Times/JZ Analytics survey, released Monday night, found about two-thirds of all likely voters would like to see their own police be able to check immigration status during routine traffic stops. Support was high across most demographics, including self-identified Republicans and independents, and even Hispanics favored the policy by a 55 percent to 41 percent margin.

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In the poll, voters were given arguments for and against the law, then asked if they wanted to see their own communities enact something similar. Overall, 50 percent of voters said they “strongly” agreed with enacting that law, and an additional 17 percent “somewhat” agreed. Just 29 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed, and the rest were uncertain.

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A handful of states have followed Arizona’s lead and enacted similar police powers, but some jurisdictions have gone the other direction.

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an ordinance he said would make sure police know they don’t have to turn illegal immigrants over to federal authorities.

The move won applause from Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat and a chief advocate for immigrant rights, who contrasted it with the get-tough policies others are turning to.

“In Arizona, they deal with this reality by enacting laws to sanction racial profiling and by condoning the irrational acts of cowboys—sometimes ones who happen to be sheriffs and carry guns—and set them loose on immigrants or anyone who looks or sounds like an immigrant,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “In Chicago, we do things a little differently because we put public safety above political stunts, and we put creating a united, cohesive society over trying to draw dividing lines or driving political wedges.”

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The survey asked how voters think the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the U.S. should be handled, and found a strong plurality want them to go home without being offered a special path to citizenship from within the U.S.

Overall, 49 percent said illegal immigrants should be “given a chance to get their affairs in order [and] then sent home, where they can apply to return through regular immigration channels.” That’s up 4 percentage points from the last TWT/JZ Analytics Poll in May.

Support for a pathway to citizenship from within the U.S. dropped 4 points, down to 29 percent, while a third option—letting illegal immigrants stay in the U.S. but without the chance for citizenship—was static at about 9 percent.

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