- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Americans say illegal immigration is rampant and could overwhelm the best efforts of both President Bush and Congress, according to two surveys released yesterday.

A USA Today/Gallup poll found that 81 percent of Americans say illegal immigration is “out of control,” while 61 percent say the government should make illegal immigration a crime. Employers seeking bargain workers beware: 52 percent of the respondents also think the government should make it a crime for U.S. citizens to help people who they know are in the country illegally.

Americans don’t favor an easy ride: Another 63 percent “opt for giving these illegal aliens a long and difficult path to citizenship,” according to Gallup analyst David Moore.

That near-two-thirds majority has some tough standards as well.

Gallup surveyed that group separately to find that 89 percent want foreign-born, aspiring citizens to have a job; 84 percent say they must speak English; 83 percent say they must pass a health screening test; 81 percent say they must pay past federal income taxes; and 67 percent favor a five-year residency requirement. Another 56 percent say illegal aliens should pay a fine for entering the United States on the sly.

The poll of 1,004 adults was conducted April 7-9, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Despite such strong convictions, Americans are also pessimistic that the government can stave off the rush of illegals: 61 percent say a “sizable number” of illegals will always be able to enter the country no matter what measures are taken against them.

A similar finding was reflected in a new Zogby poll. An overwhelming majority — 79 percent — said they were skeptical that Mr. Bush and the nation’s lawmakers will come up with a “good solution” to the immigration problem.

Illegal aliens are also losing the sympathy of Americans in the wake of recent large-scale rallies against proposed get-tough immigration policies. The survey found that overall, 61 percent of the respondents were now “less likely to be sympathetic as a result of the protests.”

Politics influences emotions as well: Only 6 percent of Republican respondents said they would feel sympathy for illegals, compared with 56 percent of Democrats.

In addition, 65 percent of the respondents said they would pay “significantly higher prices” if the price of goods and services went up as a result of tighter controls on the southern U.S. border. More than a quarter said they were very concerned that the border may be an entry point for terrorists.

The majority of Americans also oppose amnesty for the illegals currently in the United States, with 52 percent overall saying there should be no form of amnesty. Again, there were partisan differences, with 51 percent of Democrats favoring amnesty. Only 13 percent of Republicans agreed.

The Zogby poll of 7,967 adults was taken online between March 31 and April 3 and has a margin of error of plus or minus one percentage point.

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