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Poll: Majority Backs Arizona Immigration Bill


CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

Despite their expectation that it will burden police departments and disproportionately affect certain ethnic groups, a slim majority of Americans believe the controversial illegal immigration measure recently signed into law in Arizona is "about right" in its approach, according to a newly-released CBS News/New York Times poll.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed say the law, which critics say essentially mandates racial profiling, takes the right approach, and nine percent say it should go even further.

Thirty-six percent say the law goes too far.

Two in three Republicans say the law takes the right approach, along with roughly half of independents. Among Democrats, support for the law stands at 38 percent. Americans living in the South and Midwest are more likely than those in the East or West to support the measure.

One in two Americans say it is "very likely" that the law "will lead to police officers detaining people of certain racial or ethnic groups more frequently than other racial or ethnic groups." Another 32 percent say that prospect is "somewhat likely." Just 15 percent do not expect some racial or ethnic groups to be affected more than others.

Most also expect the measure to burden police departments: Seventy-eight percent say it is likely the law will place a burden on police resources, including 34 percent who find that prospect "very likely."

Eighty percent say the law will make (legal and illegal) immigrants there less likely to report crime, including 55 percent who say it is "very likely" there will be lower rates of crime reporting by immigrants.

Roughly 70 percent say it is at least somewhat likely that the measure will both reduce the number of illegal residents and new illegal immigration into the country, including 29 percent who say it is "very likely" that will happen. A slim majority say it is at least somewhat likely the measure will reduce crime.

The poll of 1079 adults nationwide was taken between April 28th and May 2nd.

Read the Complete Poll

The Challenge of Immigration:

Sixty-five percent of Americans say illegal immigration is a "very serious problem," up five points from two years ago. Just one in ten says it is not a problem.

In addition, more than three in four (78 percent) say the United States should be doing more to stop illegal immigration. A mere 17 percent say the country is doing all it can.

Most Americans say laws on illegal immigration should be set by the federal government. Fifty-seven percent want the federal government to dictate immigration law, while 34 percent say it should be left to the states.


Opposition to illegal immigration appears to be grounded at least to some extent in concerns about the economy: Nearly three in four Americans (74 percent) say illegal immigrants who use government services but don't pay taxes weaken the economy. Just 17 percent say illegal immigrants strengthen the economy by taking on low-wage jobs.

Most Americans do not want to deport working illegal immigrants, however. Just 32 percent say they should be required to leave the United States.

Forty-three percent say they should be allowed to keep working and be offered a path to citizenship, while 21 percent say they should be allowed to stay in the country as guest workers.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1079 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 28-May 2, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
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