Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Initial public reaction to the immigration proposal being debated in the Senate is decidedly negative.
A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey conducted Monday and Tuesday night shows that just 26% of American voters favor passage of the legislation. Forty-eight percent (48%) are opposed while 26% are not sure. The bi-partisan agreement among influential Senators and the White House has been met with bi-partisan opposition among the public. The measure is opposed by 47% of Republicans, 51% of Democrats, and 46% of those not affiliated with either major party.
The enforcement side of the debate is clearly where the public passion lies on the issue. Seventy-two percent (72%) of voters say it is Very Important for “the government to improve its enforcement of the borders and reduce illegal immigration.” That view is held by 89% of Republicans, 65% of Democrats, and 63% of unaffiliated voters.
Advocates of “comprehensive” reform have taken to arguing that those who want an enforcement-only policy must explain how they would deal with the 12 million illegal aliens already living in the country. The public reaction to that question appears to be “Why?” Only 29% of voters say it is Very Important for “the government to legalize the status of illegal aliens already in the United States.”
Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Democrats believe that legalization is Very Important. Just 22% of Republicans and 27% of unaffiliated voters share that view.
Still, 65% of voters would be willing to support a compromise including a “very long path to citizenship” provided that “the proposal required the aliens to pay fines and learn English” and that the compromise “would truly reduce the number of illegal aliens entering the country.” The proposal, specifically described as a compromise, was said to include “strict employer penalties for hiring illegal aliens, building a barrier along the Mexican border and other steps to significantly reduce the number of illegal aliens entering the United States.”