Monday, March 27, 2006

A sampling of polls reveals that most Americans are concerned about the financial impact of illegal immigration and fret over porous borders, lax enforcement and easygoing policies that could reward or encourage lawbreakers.

The concern cuts across demographics. A Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey of 1,892 registered voters released March 3 found that 88 percent think illegal immigration is a serious problem; 83 percent of respondents identified as children or grandchildren of immigrants agreed. The margin of error was two percentage points.

In addition, 62 percent opposed measures that would make it easier for illegals to become citizens; 56 percent of the immigrant descendants agreed. Seventy-two percent did not favor allowing illegals to get driver’s licenses; 66 percent of the immigrant descendants agreed.

“If you’re not here legally, you shouldn’t get government benefits, Americans say overwhelmingly,” said poll director Maurice Carroll.

Many Americans equate illegal immigration with a threat to the nation’s security. A Time magazine survey of 1,002 adults released in late January found that three-quarters would penalize employers hiring illegals and 70 percent felt illegals increased the likelihood of terrorism. The margin of error was three percentage points.

Those with financial clout are also uneasy. A Gallup Poll of 802 U.S. investors released yesterday found that 80 percent said the federal government should do more to prevent illegal immigration. Although 84 percent said illegals mostly took jobs Americans didn’t want, 62 percent said illegals hurt the national investment climate. Sixty-eight percent said illegals cost taxpayers too much because of their demands for public education and health care. The margin of error was four percentage points.

Gallup analyst Dennis Jacobe was surprised by the findings, saying, “When eight in 10 of those individuals who probably benefit the most from illegal immigration want the federal government to act to prevent it, then clearly elected officials should take note and act.”

Voters are attracted to a border security platform. An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey of 500 adults conducted March 10 to 13 found 71 percent would more likely vote for a congressional candidate who would tighten immigration. About 59 percent opposed President Bush’s proposal to create a guest-worker status for illegals. Fifty-six percent opposed the idea because “we should not reward people who have broken the law,” saying temporary status would encourage people to cross borders illegally. The margin of error was three percentage points.

Yet Congress is drawn to the idea of temporary status, according to a National Journal poll this month that surveyed 58 Republican and 52 Democratic lawmakers, plus a lone independent. The survey found 73 percent of Republican and 77 percent of Democratic senators and representatives said they would support an immigration bill that included a guest-worker program.

An IQ Research poll gauging the “broad view of the agricultural workers program” among 1,001 adults released in early March found 92 percent said that securing the nation’s border should be an important issue for both the White House and Congress. About 60 percent did not favor amnesty for illegals. The margin of error was three percentage points.

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