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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/15/art.borderarizona.gi.jpg caption ="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. mj

    If the White House would do its job this Bill from Arizona would not have even been introduced. Now there is talk that they want to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. This is so wrong. We are not just talking about drug dealers and cartels, but terrorists who find there way in from Mexico. There is a right way and a wrong way to enter our Country legally. Amen.

    July 27, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. GL

    Only 34 percent of white respondents oppose the measure, but among Hispanics, that number jumps to 71 percent. AND GO FIGURE! This is a direct attack on the Hispainics from the whites who are mostly for the bill. This heading

    July 27, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. ronalde

    they can respond by going to the voting booths this nov.and vote the idiots out who wrote this racist law.

    July 27, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. normajean

    I do wish that the people who write these editorials would STOP saying, "MOST PEOPLE". it is impossible for anyone to know what most people think. All the "so called " polls in the country could NOT give you this answer. Very rarely do MOST people think the same about anything.!

    July 27, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. Truthful discussion required

    Law-abiding hispanic Americans are also in favor of this legislation; maybe not the majority, but many of them because they don't want to compete for limited jobs with an undocumented alien. The
    truth of the matter, which is not being reported in the news is that there are Iranians, Pakistani's, Chinese, Somalians, Iraqi's, Syrians,
    and many other middle eastern people sneeking across the border.
    It's been confirmed that Hezbollah terrorists have crossed as well, with the help of the drug cartels. It's not only Mexicans or South Americans crossing our border, but terrorists that can carry mass destruction weapons. Border Security is National Security. To make this about racial profiling only, is to disregard the implications to our country's well being and security. Diseases that were once eradicated
    in this country are now showing up again in our emergency rooms. Our prisons are filled with illegal alien criminals; and there are prison
    gangs of Mexican illegal aliens who fight Hispanic-American gangs.
    Our school systems are over-loaded with these immigrant children and bi-lingual language courses have to be taught. Throughout history and how our country was founded on immigrants coming to our shores for a better life; they all assimilated to our language and culture. The United States is not supposed to be ghettos of different cultures; but as united citizens making this country strong. If they don't want to be part of the fabric of this country and assimilate, then let them stay where they came from.

    July 27, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. PW

    You can't have it both ways people. Are you going into the fields and pick all the fruit and vegetables in 100 degree weather people? I don't think too many Americans are signing up for those jobs. At least let them become legal!

    July 27, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Mr Joshua

    Mexico's immigration laws are far harsher than Arizona and the Mexican government and the Mexican Government is complaining~ Yet those who protest this law are bashing everyday Americans! The world is truly on it's head!

    July 27, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Tim

    Arizona is concerned with Arizona. Arizona's law will help solve Arizona's problem. It doesn't matter what the country thinks about whether or not it will help with the US problem, it will help solve Arizona's problem.


    End of discussion.

    July 27, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. nini

    Now if most Americans support Arizona law, please tell me why Obama White House and his DOG are goings against the will of the people?

    July 27, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. larry

    Most Americans are idiots. They are also the decendants of illegal immigration themselves so they should leave as well.

    July 27, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. Independent One

    Native American Indiians should be asking for papers....NOT white america...

    July 27, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    The only ones who have a right to complaIn about immigration are the American Indians.

    July 27, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. Al-NY,NY

    Well I guess it isn't as cut and dry as the GOP and their crew think it is....Most approve of it but most also think it will lead to discrimination although the tightie righties insist is won't...kinda like Duh Duh Duhbya promising no illegal activities with unapproved wiretapping when everyone and their mother knew it would lead to that

    July 27, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. Lazlo


    "Most"would mean a much larger percentage than just over 1/2. The headline would read more accurately as "55%" or "a small majority", but "most", implies far more than the 55% favorability.

    In fact one could use it as "4 in 10 oppose the law" and sound far more accurate.

    July 27, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  15. SA in OO

    By choosing to play on the emotions involved in this issue and totally neglect the legal questions here the media has chosen to fuel the confrontation instead of taking the opportunity to actually inform the public.

    Legally it doesn't really matter how many polls indicate that "most Americans support" a law most Americans haven't even read. The legal point simple.


    AND furthermore as a practical matter the law is un-enforcible. If I am a legal natural born citizen then I don't have to carry papers documenting my citizenship. So if the police pull me over and ask me for my papers, I wouldn't they still have no way of knowing if I am in the country legally or not.

    July 27, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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