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Poll: Support for Arizona Immigration Law Hits 57 Percent

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

Public support for Arizona's controversial new immigration law has increased slightly, a new CBS News poll shows, with 57 percent of Americans characterizing the law as "about right" in the way it addresses the issue of illegal immigration.

Support for the measure increased five points since May. Since then, the Justice Department has filed suit against the law, claiming that it usurps federal authority to enforce immigration laws.

The measure in question, signed into law in April and slated to go into effect later this month, makes it a state crime for a person to be in the country illegally. It also requires local law enforcement to question a person about his or her immigration status during all "lawful stops" if there is "reasonable suspicion" that person may be in the country illegally.

Twenty-three percent of Americans think the law goes too far, according to the poll, conducted July 9 - 12. That's down five points from the 28 percent who said in May that the measure goes too far. Another 17 percent said it doesn't go far enough.

About half of Americans - 52 percent -- say states should be able to enact laws regarding illegal immigrants, while 42 percent think only the federal government should able to do so.

There is a sharp partisan divide on this question: most Democrats (58 percent) say laws covering illegal immigration should be the responsibility of the federal government only, while Republicans (64 percent) and independents (58 percent) think the states should be allowed to pass such laws.

Half of Americans think illegal immigrants take jobs that Americans don't want, while fewer - 42 percent -- say they take jobs away from Americans.

Watch this week's @katiecouric Webshow below where Katie Couric talks to experts on both sides of the debate -- NYU Law Professor Cristina Rodriguez, Dan Stein, President of FAIR, and Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow at Migration Policy Institute and former INS commissioner:
@katiecouric: Ariz. Immigration Law

More from the poll:

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Poll: Americans Say Bad Economy Will Linger
Poll: Support For Health Care Reform Drops
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Read the Complete Poll

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 966 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone July 9-12, 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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