July 27th, 2010
12:00 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Most Americans support Arizona law but concerned about effects

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows a majority of Americans think Arizona’s new immigration law will increase discrimination against Hispanics.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows a majority of Americans think Arizona’s new immigration law will increase discrimination against Hispanics.

Washington (CNN) - Most Americans support Arizona's new law on illegal immigration, but according to a national poll, a majority think the controversial measure will increase discrimination against Hispanics while not necessarily making a dent in the problem.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that Hispanic and whites don't see eye to eye over the law.

Full results [pdf]

Fifty-five percent of people questioned in the poll say they favor the measure, with four in ten saying they oppose the law. Only 34 percent of white respondents oppose the measure, but among Hispanics, that number jumps to 71 percent.

"Support for the Arizona law also varies by gender and age," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Nearly six in ten older Americans, and six in ten men, favor the measure. But only a bare majority of women and Americans under 50-years-old think the law is a good idea."

The survey's Tuesday release comes two days before the scheduled implementation of a tough and controversial immigration law in Arizona. The measure, signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April, requires police to question people about their status if they have been detained for another reason and if there is reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them.

Critics have said the law will promote racial profiling. Supporters of the bill say its aim is only to enforce federal law.

The survey indicates a majority of Democrats oppose the new law while most Republicans and independents support the measure.

Will the measure reduce the flow of illegal immigration?

According to the poll, the public is divided, with 48 percent saying the law will help reduce illegal immigration and 50 percent saying no. Only 35 percent of Hispanics say the law will be effective, 15 points lower than how whites responded.

The survey indicates a majority, 54 percent, say the measure will lead to discrimination against Hispanics, with 44 percent disagreeing. Forty-nine percent of whites say the law will lead to discrimination, with that number jumping to 74 percent when asked of Hispanics.

"Seven in ten Hispanics say that racism against Hispanics is common among police officers, although only a quarter say that racism is 'very common'," adds Holland. "By contrast, roughly twice as many blacks say that racism against blacks among police officers is very common."

According to the poll, whites and Hispanics disagree on other immigration measures as well, particularly a fence along the Mexican border and sanctions against businesses that employ illegal immigrants.

"There is widespread support among all races for a program that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally if they had a job and paid back taxes. But keep in mind CNN poll results released on Monday which show that most Americans want to see the government concentrate on halting the flow of illegal immigrants and deporting those already here before taking any steps toward permanent residency," says Holland.

So how does this play into the midterm elections, where Hispanic voters could play a crucial role in determining which political party controls the next Congress?

The survey indicates Hispanics remain in the Democratic camp, but there are some indications that the GOP may make headway among them. Hispanics favor the Democratic candidate for Congress in their district over the GOP candidate by a 54 to 39 percent margin.

"That's an indication that Democrats will again capture the Hispanic vote in November. But they probably won't win this key demographic group with the kind of margin they got in 2006, when the Democrats racked up a 69 to 30 percent advantage that helped the party regain control of Congress," adds Holland.

According to the survey, 57 percent of Hispanics approve of how President Barack Obama is handling his job overall. Obama gets low marks from Hispanics on the economy and illegal immigration, but they heartily approve of his track record on health care.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted July 16-21, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone, including a special sample of 308 black and 303 Hispanic respondents. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN Polls • Immigration • issues
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Bill

    If there is no problem... then you have nothing to worry about. We are becomming a nation of paranoid people. Sad

    July 27, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Jeff S

    I'm in favor of enforcing immigration laws, I just don't want citizens to be approached by law enforcement and asked to prove their citizenship. "Papiers Please, Comrade" doesn't fly here.

    July 27, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Obama sues Arizona for Illegal immigration, a State, which as I recall, is part of the United States, for something the government should have done along time ago. (what has happened to “ONE NATION UNDER GOD”). Obama has even encouraged other country’s to sue Arizona over this immigration law, what’s with that. I am an American and I believe in and support Arizona’s immigration law, as should as all American’s.
    Obama, congress and the senate work for people, the problem is, that they don’t care what the people say or want, but I can guarantee, that come November they will.
    Mainstream media, with the likes of MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC and Newspapers should be ashamed of themselves to allow this solicits government to dictate what will be reported to the people of this country. Thank God for the Fox Network.
    If you believe in God, the Constitution and yourself, we as a nation will overcome the tyranny of this administration.

    July 27, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. wjadams

    Obama sues Arizona for Illegal immigration, a State, which as I recall, is part of the United States, for something the government should have done along time ago. (what has happened to “ONE NATION UNDER GOD”). Obama has even encouraged other country’s to sue Arizona over this immigration law, what’s with that. I am an American and I believe in and support Arizona’s immigration law, as should as all American’s.
    Obama, congress and the senate work for people, the problem is, that they don’t care what the people say or want, but I can guarantee, that come November they will.
    Mainstream media, with the likes of MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC and Newspapers should be ashamed of themselves to allow this solicits government to dictate what will be reported to the people of this country. Thank God for the Fox Network.
    If you believe in God, the Constitution and yourself, we as a nation will overcome the tyranny of this administration.

    July 27, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. kate

    I think Arizona had to do something about the "illegal" immigration. After all we should defend the rights of legal Americans, and no one is an American until you become a citizen. No one is saying anything about the ranchers that are killed along the border, who by the way are American citizens. Where do their rights fit in?

    July 27, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Victim of GOP Taliban

    All those shacks and tents shown in the photo are Mexicans and Central Americans waiting to make the move north of the border. Maybe if billionaires like Mitt Romney would stop hiring them to work on their fancy mansions it would help.

    July 27, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Where is Arizona's tough new law where they send out police looking for employers who hire illegal immigrants at sub-standard wages without benefits?

    The downturn in the economy has had the greatest impact on the number of illegal aliens coming to the US; that's proof that if there weren't jobs, they wouldn't come.

    Crack down on the first-line lawbreakers – the people who are hiring illegal immigrants!

    July 27, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Squiggs

    Thats because more Americans haven't read it. All they know we're gonna stop some Mexicans.

    July 27, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. ATL Guy

    Is this saying that Americans are compassionate racists?

    July 27, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. Brad

    So, most people think that it will lead to discrimination, but they are for it anyway? Welcome to America!!

    July 27, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz,VA

    I disagree with Arizona's new law because it will lead to profiling. Period! The state is stepping beyong their boundaries. This is a federal matter.

    July 27, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Jill American

    "... a majority think the controversial measure will increase discrimination against Hispanics while not necessarily making a dent in the problem.". If that's what they think then how the heck can they agree with the law? Haven't we learned anything from our past?

    July 27, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Donkey Party

    Americans are stupid. Many don't even know who we declared our independence from, now all of a sudden they're the authority on immigration laws???

    July 27, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Just a quick FYI to John McCain and others claiming that illegal immigrants increase the incidences of violent crime:

    According to the FBI, the four safest big cities in the U.S. – San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin – are all in border states.

    In Southwestern border counties, violent crime has dropped more than 30% in the past two decades.

    The real crime is the way some companies break the law by hiring illegal immigrants, thus laying off living-wage U.S. citizens in favor of paying sub-standard wages with no benefits.

    July 27, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. stormerF

    The only concern I have is that it will drive the illegas toward where I live away from AZ, Maybe all the states should adopt a similiar law,and we should force the federal Government to do their job of deportation. NOW.

    July 27, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Marcus

    So basically 'Most Americans' wants that SOMETHING is done rgarding the ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION stuff, even if they admit that what Arizona has done is not exactly the right way of doing it?
    Alright...

    PS: Henry Miller, 'Libertarian', lately you've been showng your bias and prejudice with way too obvious colors dude...
    Too obvious to be respected as a 'thoughtful' analysis.

    July 27, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. gt

    america is a nation of laws... there illegal ... what do people not understand about that....no surprise to avereage americans they broke the law to be here,,,

    July 27, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. Esme

    I do not.

    And I do not know of anyone in my near circle, whether Republicans or Democrats, that support this measure.

    July 27, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Big George in Big D

    Actually, in my case and in many cases of other's I've witnessed, the reverse is quite true. The lack of anything being done to curb the illegal influx into our daily lives has made me more discriminate. Why isn't there a poll on that? Therein will lie the truth!

    July 27, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Nebraska Mom

    I fully support Arizona's efforts. I watch my taxes continue to go up to support the illegal immigrants who are descending on OUR state. As we continue to provide education and health care to non-citizens, our crime rates are going up along with our taxes. Schools are overcrowded, our education funding is maxed out and now we have "the Learning Community" here in Omaha, taking $$$ away from the suburban schools to pay for ESL classes in Omaha. Enough already! Please go home and pressure your own government to address your needs!

    July 27, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. jeb bush

    mexicans don't respect the united states. they refuse to learn english . only to wait till they get them green cards and demand we speak haspanic. why is it that we keep kissing their butts? i 'll tell you like i told my daugthers when they were 13,12 and 8 respectively..... i told them that they better learn spanish because i've witnessed the unimpeded flow of illegals for decades, now look what you've created. oh yea my daughters are 35,34, and 30. now. and look at what the [usa] ........ just take a hard look , of what we have on our hands.

    July 27, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. hypocricnnation

    We'll Just See How Good The Immigration Law In Arizona Will Help That Scab Of A Governor Jan Brewer Get Re-Elected!

    July 27, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. Peace

    It is all about concern on effects, a person like me do oppose the law. There is no way the law can be effective without causing effects to those who are targeted!

    July 27, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. Dano

    So if a majority think the law will increase discrimination against Hispanics while not necessarily making a dent in the illegal immigration problem, why do most Americans support it? I suppose as long as it doesn't increase the chance of discrimination against caucasians (Only 34 percent of white respondents oppose the measure), a majority of caucasians are willing to take that chance.

    July 27, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. Tea Party RACIST

    i'm concerned about the effects of not enforcing this law!!!! illegals are out of control (strong sense of entitlement – no acknowledgement of the laws – etc...). do the damn thing!

    July 27, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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