Editorial pages may rage against the Arizona immigration law, but a solid majority of Americans support it, an IBD/TIPP poll found. Sixty percent back the law, with 40% strongly favoring it, according to preliminary results. Meanwhile, 30% oppose it, with 20% strongly disapproving it. The remaining 10% are unsure.
The responses show a public increasingly frustrated with the response by local, state and federal authorities and welcoming solutions — like Arizona's law — that would have been politically untenable a few years ago.
"The majority of Americans support the Arizona law, though they may have some concerns about it," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducted the poll.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors restrictionist policies, says the poll is not surprising. Border control policies are always popular, he notes.
The law, signed by GOP Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23, lets state and local law enforcement scrutinize a person's citizenship after a "lawful contact" (arrest or other action).
Similar laws are being proposed for Pennsylvania, Missouri, Texas, Maryland and Oklahoma, though they are in preliminary stages.
The poll also found hardened atti tudes toward illegal immigrants. Now 49% agree that illegals do jobs that Americans will not do vs. 54% in 2006. Just 33% believe illegals contribute significantly to the economy vs. 44% in 2006.
Eighty percent believe employers who knowingly hire illegals should be held accountable, 66% say securing the borders trumps expanding any guest-worker program and 71% think that the borders must be secure before discussing any amnesty for existing illegal immigrants.
"If the public actually did believe the borders were secure ... the public might actually go for an amnesty," Krikorian said. But the public doesn't buy border enforcement claims, he adds.
Pro-immigrant groups, civil rights organizations and others have denounced the law as draconian — or worse — and likely to lead to racial profiling of Latinos.
Thousands of Hispanics protested the law on May 1. Latino groups are organizing an Arizona boycott.
The White House has been critical as well. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week the federal government may challenge the law in court.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum and a critic of the Arizona law, disputed that the poll shows broad support for the measure. He says it just reflects public anger over immigration policy in general.
"The country is frustrated over our broken immigration system and Congress' inability to act. People are looking for a solution," said Noorani, adding that the solution is to "make taxpayers out of all workers ... get immigrants right with the law and secure our borders."
But President Obama recently signaled that comprehensive immigration reform is off the agenda this year, noting a wary Congress.
IBD's survey was based on interviews with 526 people from April 30 to May 3. Polling will continue through Thursday.