May 4th, 2010
10:54 AM ET
13 years ago

Poll: Majority support Arizona immigration law, with reservations

Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans support Arizona's tough new immigration law, even though most of them think it could lead to racial profiling, according to a new national poll. A CBS/New York Times survey released Tuesday also indicates that Americans overwhelming believe that the country's immigration laws need to be changed.

Fifty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say the new legislation, which Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law on April 23, is about right, with another nine percent saying it doesn't go far enough and 36 percent saying it goes too far in its scope. But more than eight in ten questioned say its very or somewhat likely that the new law will lead to police officers detaining people of certain racial or ethnic groups more frequently than other racial or ethnic groups.

The new Arizona law requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect they are in the United States illegally. The measure also makes it a state crime to live in or travel through Arizona illegally.

The law has ignited protests in the state and across the country and some are urging economic boycotts of Arizona. Supporters say the law is needed to confront rising problems involving illegal immigrants in Arizona, particularly those with criminal records.

A Gallup poll released last week showed similar public attitudes: nearly four in ten Americans supported the new law, with three in ten opposed, and 31 percent saying they had not heard of the new law at the time, or had no opinion.

According to the CBS/New York Times survey, eight in ten think it is somewhat or very likely that the new measure will deter immigrants from reporting crime or cooperating with authorities out of fear of being deported. Nearly eight in ten questioned say it's somewhat or very likely that the new law will burden the resources of state and local police departments.

But nearly three out of four Americans believe that it is likely the new law will lead to a reduction in the number of illegal immigrants currently in Arizona, and nearly seven in ten say it is likely the measure will deter people from other countries from illegally crossing the border into the state.

The poll indicates that 44 percent of the public believe the nation's immigration policy should be completely rebuilt, with another 45 percent saying fundamental changes are needed. Nearly two-thirds of those questioned say the issue of illegal immigration is a serious problem for the country, while another 24 percent say it's a somewhat serious problem.

The survey suggests that Americans are more divided on what to do: 44 percent support keeping legal immigration at its current level, just over three in ten support decreasing the level, and 17 percent call for an increase.

The CBS/New York Times poll was conducted April 28-May 2, with 1,079 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: Arizona • Immigration • Popular Posts
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. stevegee

    Close the borders. Throw out all the illegal aliens, including their children born here (crossing a border against the law doesn't make you a citizen; it makes you a criminal). And make it a federal crime to hire anyone in this country illegally.

    This is our country, not the world's free-for-all. And we demand that Washington do its sworn duty by securing our sovereignty.

    May 4, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  2. Michael

    The only reason even a small majority of Americans support this law is because they cannot envision a better way to solve the problem of illegal immigration.
    There are many measures that can be taken, starting now, that will address the issue more efficiently and to better effect, without putting anyone's civil rights in jeopardy.
    The main difference would be to focus police/ INS attention on industry rather than on individuals, for obvious reasons: businesses, unlike illegals, are already registered and don't need to be tracked, stumbled upon, or otherwise located. There are few businesses that would need to be monitored compared to the number of illegals. The list goes on and on.
    But Republicans will always leave industry alone and go after the individual (as long as it's not a rich individual with ties to the GOP).

    May 4, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. ron mexico

    it doesn't matter what the majority thinks. haven't we learned this by now?

    May 4, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. Mark

    Unconstitutional. End of story.

    May 4, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. ThinkAgain

    Arizona police should be stopping all Caucasian people, just in case they are Canadians taking the long route into the United States.

    May 4, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. Franklin

    *************There is something seriously wrong with an administration that thinks it's okay to ask if you have health insurance, but thinks it's wrong to ask if you are in the country legally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 4, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. Ruty

    Don't back down Arizona-you are correct in asking for documentation of any one in America. I wish every state would enact this bill.

    May 4, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. Obama the liar

    to be fair we should adopt Mexico's policy.. First offence for illegals is two years prison, second offence ten years in prison and on their southern border you have a 90% chance of being shot by the federales...good luck.

    May 4, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Tom in Va

    Nothing smacks of nazi-ism like, "Show me your papers!"

    May 4, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. AFR531

    Racial profiling existed across the country before the Arizona law. Now it has become part of the "enhanced" interrogation techniques. With this new law -racial profiling is inevitable.

    May 4, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Anonymous

    This law sounds like a good way to settle old grudges. Say you live in Arizona and ha e a knack for holding city hall accountable. Your 20 year old son comes home from college for summer break and is driving around looking for a summer job. The local police see him and recognize him as the "agitators" son. The police stop your son and ask for the normal credentials and legal status to be in the state. I'm sure you can finish the story.

    May 4, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. GaryB

    Here's what I don't understand. Existing law already gives law enforcement the ability to check legal status once a person has been arrested, so the main purpose of this law would seem to be to corral people who are not breaking any other law. If Arizona law enforcement doesn't have the resources needed to take down the drug dealers (the drug trade supposedly being one of the top motivations behind this law), how on earth are they supposed to have the resources necessary to enforce this new law?

    May 4, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |

    Hey, Obama, please get on the side of the overwhelming will of the people - for a "change" - rather than continually fighting against the vast majority of American citizens. And, CNN, where is Vera Baker??

    May 4, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Minnesotan

    I'm a Liberal and I'm glad Arizona is leading the way on Illegal Immigration and punishing these criminals. Emigrating to ANY country is an earned reward, not a right, as these law-breaking Mexicans seem to think. America needs to show some "tough love" to Mexico by closing our borders and making these cretins immigrate through LAWFUL means. America needs a latino enema!

    May 4, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. sharon

    So.......all aliens should carry, "at all times", their paperwork....called
    documenation?........this would mean that all people who are not Native American and African-American should carry ,at all times, their
    paperwork ,proving they are legal.......right?

    For, only these 2 groups have no reason to have peperwork , at all times, on their person, to prove who they are.

    This is if ,......THERE IS NO RACIAL PROFILING ........going on.

    Where was this pole taken.........NO, THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DO NOT AGREE WITH THIS pole..................................................

    Please do not assume to speak for those people who have NOT been asked.

    May 4, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. Get A Grip

    Gov. Jan Brewer did the right thing. Good for her!

    May 4, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Concerned in MN

    What does it say about AMericans that we think this laww will lead to racial profiling, but support it anyway?

    Maybe our racist past isn't so far behind us...

    May 4, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. Paul from Phoenix

    Every administration since Reagan's amnisty plan is to blame for this. Bush, CLinton, Bush II, Obama, all have ignored the crisis on the border.

    Arizona has been forced to take action. It sucks, but if you don't live here, you have no idea what is going on. In reality, the people hurt most by illegal imigration are actually LEGAL HISPANIC RESIDENTS. They are being forced to work at day laborer wages while paying American taxes. THey did everything right. They are getting screwed.

    May 4, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. Albert R. Killackey, AZ has a great idea but...

    Arizona is wasting this idea on small crime on the streets concerns when crime in the suites of Wall Street is the real problem. Wall Street criminal profiling should require all law enforcement officers to review all papers, voice and text messages and emails of all white middle-aged males who work in skyscrapers, retire in Arizona and vote for Republicans. Yes, it is racial persecution of white males in Arizona but since a majority there think that is how law enforcement works best, then I say lets give them what they asked for.

    May 4, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  20. Wake UP

    ILLEGAL, IS ILLEGAL. How are all these left wingers against checking who should or shouldn't be in this country?

    You obamabots are so fricken tainted. I say we shut the borders to all immigrants for a year and clean out the illegals and let each country come in EQUALLY.

    May 4, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Jim

    From what I read and hear, people generally don't have a clear understanding of what this law entails yet. Until people do know what it really does, these polls are more about what people imagine the law does.

    Maybe pollsters should start asking people factual questions to measure peoples awareness of the issues at hand. This isn't a slam one side or the other; it would just be nice to the degree to which the public's opinion is well informed.

    May 4, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. jpar

    I wonder how many people don't even realize how many illegals die in our deserts each year of exposure and lack of water. Many are abandoned by their mule [so called paid guide]. The drug runners are rampant. Gang activity is out of hand. Many seek a better life at their own peril. I know these facts because I live in an area of high illegal activity. I can't turn my back on them so I give them food and water, but something needs to be done, for their own sake.

    May 4, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  23. truth

    I wonder if the majority would favor Natives reclaiming their land that the White Man stole. How dare these red-necks, ignorant black and legal hispanics call the indigenous people immigrants? Don't they know that America does not belong to the white man? America is stolen property that was built by hard labor and sweat of poor whites, blacks, and Hispanics. That’s the problem with this country. The rich white man (Republican) robs, steals, and kills and never has to pay a penalty. Just look at Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush (S&L scandal), Goldmansach, Wall Street and many other big Wigs. The (Republicans) wrong doing is justified through the media. The media is largely to blame for a lot of injustice in America, including CNN. In fact, CNN is more to blame because we all know that Fox new is twisted. CNN is a wolf in sheep clothing. What ever that White man says on television or the radio (Limbaugh) is the gospel. I’m not referring to everyday working, medium to low class whites so keep your shirt on. I am, however, referring to the Big Dogs. I hope Mother Nature comes through America with a vengeance. Maybe then Whites will realize that people are all created equal. No one race is better than another. I think the immigrants need to take notes from that dumb Sarah Palin, "reload and aim."

    May 4, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. The Root Cause

    They didn't call me and I don't support this law. There is no way to prosection this law without disproportionately focusing it on Latinos.

    I do not trust police enough to allow them to MANUFACTURE reasons to stop cars .... "you didn't come to a complete stop" .... "you don't have your seat belt on" .... I stopped you for speeding .... etc.

    The law was passed in the wake of the death of a white farmer that lived along the border. No one knows who killed him ... could have been an American.

    The real problem with crime in Arizona is that Conservatives have facilitated the trafficking of guns & assault rifles to criminals in Mexico. Instead of profile immigrants, everyone that voted for the bill should be re-enstating the assualt weapons ban. Violence didn't spill over into the US until just recently. It's the GUNS STUPID.

    Drug consumption ... by suburban Americans .... is funding the drug cartels. Want to stop the violence .... LOCK UP the Drug Users.

    May 4, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. YY

    Well, surprise, surprise. The majority of people in the US and Arizona are white. Whites aren't afraid of being stopped. And apparently they don't care if brown skinned legal citizens get swooped up in whatever raids or round ups Arizona police have in mind. This is more than being asked for ID. This is asking for alien registration papers. So if you are hispanic and don't have those papers, how will law enforcement know that your drivers license is legally obtained? They don't. Legal hispanics must now carry some proof of citizenship within their own country or they run the risk of being locked up and imprisoned. This is second class citizenship. This is shameful.

    May 4, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
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