The Numbers Are In: Polls Reveal Voters' Desire for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

In the media storm following the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) lawsuit against Arizona’s immigration enforcement law (SB1070) this week, politicians, reporters and advocates are busy gauging voters’ reaction in the build up to midterm elections. A number of public opinion polls have recently surfaced, each with something slightly different to say about how most Americans feel about Arizona’s law, the DOJ lawsuit, and immigration in general. As any pollster can tell you, poll results depend entirely on the phrasing of the question. However, while it’s difficult to mine the nuances of each poll question, one thing remains clear -- most Americans agree that our broken immigration system needs to be fixed. The question is, how do we move forward?

A new bipartisan poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies found that the majority of voters who support Arizona’s immigration law are also more likely to support comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). The poll asked the following question about a CIR proposal:

Under this proposal, the federal government would strengthen border security and crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants currently living in the United States would be required to register with the federal government, undergo criminal background checks, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for U.S. citizenship.

84% of the 1,100 registered voters polled who said they support Arizona’s law said they also support comprehensive reform, with 12% opposing and 4% undetermined.

A recent Gallup/USA Today poll, however, shows that Americans are closely divided on whether the U.S. government should halt the flow of undocumented immigrants or deal with the undocumented immigrants already here. 54% of the 1,014 adults, aged 18 and older, surveyed supported halting the flow while 45% wanted a plan to deal with the immigrants who are already here. The number of people supporting a comprehensive plan is up from 43% in May of 2006 while the number of those who want a halt is down from 52% in the same year.

Finally, a recent Rasmussen poll found that 61% of voters “favor passage of Arizona’s law” in their state. The same poll found that 56% of voters disagreed with the DOJ lawsuit while 28% agreed the DOJ should challenge the state law.

But no matter how your slice these varied poll results, one thing remains constant -- voters are clearly concerned about immigration and many, regardless of their stance on Arizona’s law or the DOJ lawsuit, want to fix our broken immigration system. As America’s Voice points out, voters are clearly frustrated with the fact that Congress has failed to move on immigration. With the recent upswing in state immigration enforcement legislation, voters are sending policy-makers a very clear message: America needs solutions to our immigration problems now.

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