Washington (CNN) - Recent national polls suggest that a majority of Americans support Arizona's controversial immigration law.
The Justice Department Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging the new measure, which is scheduled to take effect later this month. The law requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and allows police to question the residency status of people in the course of enforcing another law. It also targets businesses that hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transports them.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted in May, 57 percent of the public favored the measure, with 37 percent opposed. Since then, national polls by Quinnipiac University (51-31 percent in favor), ABC News/Washington Post (58-41 percent in favor) and Fox News/Opinion Dynamics (52-27 percent in favor) also indicate that a majority back the new law.
Most of the surveys also indicate that a vast majority want border security beefed up, and that most Americans also favor giving illegal immigrants now living in the U.S. the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements. When asked which issue is most important, a majority of voters say border security trumps immigration reform as the top priority for the federal government.
The move by the Justice Department comes with less than four months to go until November's crucial midterm elections.
"This is a big issue to a small number of Americans. Our most recent polling indicated that only eight percent say it's the most important issue facing the country," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Will this affect the midterm elections? If immigration remains in single digits or the low double digits as the most pressing issue on the mind of voters, then it may be a factor in some house races, but in most districts the economy will be the determining factor."
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