If you believe the popularity of Arizona’s tough crackdown on immigration reflects a growing anti-immigrant wave, think again.
Supporters of the measure are even more likely than its opponents to favor a comprehensive immigration overhaul, a new survey conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies found Friday.
A whopping eighty-four percent of Arizona law backers said they support reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants Ã¢â‚¬â€œ higher than the seventy-eight percent of overall national voters in favor of such a program.
Despite its high-profile controversies and legal challenges, voters said they favor the state’s measure by a massive 60 to 23 percent margin Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 45 percent “strongly” support it. Numerous national polls have shown similar findings.
But this popularity appears not to be a referendum on the specifics of the measure. Instead, the study finds that public support has been driven largely by growing hunger for action on immigration and intensifying frustration with CongressÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s inability to fix what is widely perceived as a broken system.
Of the Arizona measureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s backers, 52 percent said their support comes from the fact that “[t]he state took action because the federal government has failed to solve the problem,” the poll found. Only 28 percent liked it because it will “reduce illegal immigration”; 12 percent because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll Ã¢â‚¬Å“reduce crime.”
Given the choice, respondents overwhelmingly said immigration should be dealt with at the federal Ã¢â‚¬â€œ rather than the state Ã¢â‚¬â€œ level, but chose state action over the status quo.
Participants were told that “comprehensive immigration reform” includes beefing up border security and creating a tough pathway to citizenship that involves undergoing a background check, paying taxes, learning English and waiting in line.
This description closely mirrors the Democrats’ reform template released late April. Republicans have so far declined to support a comprehensive overhaul, demanding that the Obama administration work to secure the border first.
The study suggests that the public at large does not appear to be embracing restrictionist sentiments, even though the number of “anti-immigrant” “hate groups” grew substantially last year, as per the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The most recent attempt at comprehensive immigration reform was in 2007, when legislation championed by the Bush administration failed to achieve cloture in the Senate.
The poll surveyed 1,100 registered voters nationwide and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.