July 27th, 2010
12:00 PM ET
10 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. Tom in Delaware

    The new law is already working....400,000 illegals gone so far....on Thursday the laws against hiring an illegal go into effect.

    If the DOJ needs something to do then they can start prosecuting the 'Sanctuary Cities'....they're the ones out of step with Federal Law.

    Go Arizona GO....you lead, we'll follow.

    July 27, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  2. Tam

    So who's gonna pick the strawberries and lettuce and stuff? How much are you willing to pay for fruits and veggies if picked by a legal American? If you'll find one willing to do this hard work. And the landscaping, and housekeeping, and dishwashing, and babysitting.

    July 27, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Sharron

    I do not support the LAW......if you think that every naturally born Mexican American is going to have to carry their birth certificates in the State of Arizona just to prove they are true Americans then you have another thing coming......The State of Arizona will have so many LAW SUITS against them they will go bankrupt as a State.......You know that eventually there will be these American Mexicans pulled over and asked to show their papers......bullshit on that.....My husband is Mexican born and raised in America, his father was born here and fought in World War II receive the Bronze Star, my husband fought in Vietnam and received the Silver Star and Purple Heart and if he would have to show papers in Arizona or any other State you can bet you last dollar that we would take Arizona and anyother state to Court and take every cent that State has.......

    July 27, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. BILL, WI

    The poll should have compared Americans veiw of Federal Immigration Law the new Arizona Immigration Law. It would be interesting to see how the opinions would differ, since the Arizona law is an exact match to Federal law. It is interesting to note that 18 U.S.C. § 3041 authorizes local law enforcement officials to make arrests for violations of federal statutes.

    July 27, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. John in Cal

    As we found out with the Patriot act, it is too easy for government or state agencies to abuse the law. That is my concern here. In trying to curtail illegel entries into the US, these same agencies can and most likely stop and question many other ethnics who may look like mexicans or may look like they are hiding something or just plain nervous around police. Heck even I get nervous around them, and I haven't done anything. We all do, right? This is what police look for, so even I or anyone else could get stopped for no reason. Oh ya, you say, if you haven't done anything no problem, Right? But it still is an abuse of power. Think about it.

    July 27, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Terry in Iowa

    I have no problem with enforcing the law, as long as that law is constitutional. And although I can empathize with the actions taken by AZ legislation, I suspect that the AZ laws will be found to be unconstitutional. 1) It is not within a States jurisdiction to make immigration laws; that is the responsibility of the Federal government. 2) The likelihood of abuse, regardless of the intention and precautions, is extremely high. Historically, we have seen too many examples of over zealous law enforcement agents / departments that overstep their authority. Because of prejudices and biases towards specific ethnic groups will be targeted. And fortunately, we are all given equal protection under the law by our Constitution. 3) The law has the potential, in practice, to by pass the IV Amendment, protecting us from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    It is not unreasonable to ask ALL Americans to carry proof of citizenship on their persons, for purposes such as gaining employment and using public services. After all, when we choose to drive, we are required to obtain a drivers license and carry proof of insurance. But no law can be targeted at one group of people because of the ethnicity, religion, etc.

    July 27, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. jim

    Hispanics make up 15% of the nation's total population. Blacks make up 13.5% of the total population.However,in this poll they are represented as counting as over 60% of the represented response.How can anyone say that this poll represents the true feelings of the public on an important subject as illegal immigration?CNN is using this poll and it's results to try to persuade the public that this problem is not as bad as it seems in order to help Obama in his unpopular stand in bringing a federal lawsuit againt Arizona and him not doing anything from keeping more illegals from pouring across our borders.!!!

    July 27, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. Reg

    Its all according to perspective. If you have ever lived where your local government was overwhelmed by free services to illegal immigrants than you would most likely care more. Just like the oil spill in the gulf was so painful to us in the south but I felt we did not get the push from officials up north. If if was off the coast of Maine they might have responded to stop if faster but it doesn't matter if its a southern state.

    July 27, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    Did the republicans ask Lou Dobbs and his hispanic wife how they feel? Did you Steinhauser? You're one of the die-hard GObPers.

    July 27, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. T'SAH from Virginia

    Oh NOW CNN you are digging more than just accepting a YES or NO answer!!!!!!!!!!!!

    For months everyone was claiming that the majority of Americans – the American I truly don't know – agree with the LAW!!!! Now, all of a sudden, they ALL agree but fear it may cause PROFILING!! Then, WHY AGREE???????????????????

    We all want Immigration Reform but should not go against the constitution to achieve it. If the people YOU poll know the law is unconstitutional – the answers would be different!!

    Now you are looking at GENDER and AGE and RACE and other factors that will tell the TRUTH instead of you generalizing all poll questions to have a YES or NO answer.

    All of your polls are like this and you better be careful – especially when judging President Obama's approval rating. No way in God's creation this president has a 36% approval rating – which you claimed in another poll. That alone says you are not polling “people of a darker color”.

    Polls can no longer be based on a YES or NO answer. Also, you have to be more diverse in your polling instead of using SENIORS & REPUBS only!!

    July 27, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. AEK

    I would say that probably most Americans can agree that something must be done on immigration, but done in a way that respects people's human rights and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. We will find that although the law in Arizona does a lot to ease the frustration felt by the folks in Arizona, it does not protect the human rights or Constitutional freedoms that are the cornerstone of American life. If the Republicans, who did have many years in power, had at least started the process of reform, or at the very least now be willing to step away from their "just say NO" mentality and join in the reform process, we might, just maybe, get a resolution of which, we as American can be proud.

    July 27, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Ralph

    The question of immigration control is always sticky. The problem is, we aren't looking for caucasian illegal immigrants or black illegal immigrants or asian illegal immigrants. The reason that hispanics are targeted is by and large they represent the VAST majority of illegal immigrants in this country. And so, how do you target a group that happens to be not-white without appearing racist? And that is the question that will continue to plague any law attempting to enforce the laws dealing with illegal immigrants. I'm a white male so pretty much anything I do dealing with another race is immediately going to be considered suspect. My motivations are racist rather than pragmatic. I'm always a bit tired of such arguments. But I understand where they come from. All in all, I support the law. Certainly there will be some racial profiling, but as I said earlier, it is nearly impossible to enact an immigration reform law without, unfortunately, targeting hispanics. Are there better ways to go about enforcing immigration laws? Perhaps. But I think any iteration of a law is going to appear "racist" on some level even though it isn't inherently meant to be. It's just a matter of the groups that are being targeted and the fact that they happen to be of a specific ethnicity.

    What I don't support is the opinion that if a law CAN be abused it should not be a law. Lots of laws can be abused but they are supposed to be entrusted to law enforcement officials that, acting responsibly, can fairly administer the law to its stated intent and not possible unethical outcomes.

    I have a better idea. Let's just absorb Mexico into the U.S. They are struggling in many ways anyway and all seem to want to be here anyway.

    Yes, that was a joke. I'm sure the Mexican population as a whole has no desire to become one or more new states in the Union. But, it would certainly solve the Mexican immigration problem and give us a much smaller, easier to control souther border

    July 27, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Michelle

    I am happy that Arizona is finally doing something to help the epidemic of illegals in the country. Every where you look, there are illegals taking jobs, over-crowding our towns and taking advantage of our government systems.

    There are ways that illegals can become legal citizens, but they are choosing not to do any of them; therefore, they must face the consequences! It's a pretty simple process to become a citizen, we have the process in place because we welcome 'legal' citizens!

    Thank you Arizona for making a stand to hold our "government" accountable and reminding them of their job! Now... it's time for a change!

    July 27, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. sonny chapman

    This is bad news. Americans support a law that discriminates, just as long as it's not them being discriminated against. What happened to the spirit of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement: "An Injustice Against One is an Injustice Against All" ?

    July 27, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. mike

    I think this is great that we should border protection from state to state this way when we get states that want to separate from the union we
    can then put a fence up and keep the uneducated hillbillies out lets get real what do those idiots do for this country nothing but complain about everything even china has become smarter than them what does that tell you

    July 27, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. sara

    It's divisive and will not serve our country well. I've been "baffled" by the lack of interest that John McCain suddenly had for the immigration problem that obviously just didn't start there, but has been there for decades. John McCain, Arizona's Senior Senator has been in the Senate for DECADES without working to solve this problem for His own State? Where has this "urgency" been? For 8 years, the Congress gave the Republican President EVERYTHING he wanted, included going to wars based on a LIE. Yep, the Democratic Senate was elected in 2006! Georgie and the other minnows was running it from 2000-2006! Oh, it was'nt politically in the best interest of their Party then.

    Makes you wonder, right! All of sudden,( and believe me) he had a "talk" with the appointed Republican governor in the state of Arizona to "initiate" a "state takeover" of this very Federal problem, in an attempt to "pit" one segment of our country against another.

    These are the "maggots" who continue to play with this country in the "name" of politics and their salaries......which makes them powerful, while leaving the country that "they say" they love in the "gutter".......retire to their mansions and return for more taxpayers money in the Name of "lobbyist". Isn't this SICK! WAKE UP!!!!!!

    This isn't about US, it's about their personal wealth which IS POWER that they have become addicted to!!!!

    Where has he been for all these DECADES!!!!?????? Arizona should have held his feet to the fire, and demanded he continued to work on Immigration reform, bring it to the floor, compromised and passed a Straight-Forward Sensible BILL. What would have been the problem. .

    Average Americans haven't (all these decades) "used" these people while turning a blind eye because it benefitted us. It is the Wealthy ones, the powerful ones who uses their "services" to build their companies into Billion dollar empires, Clean their Mansions and pick their fruit and veggies. Think about it! They allowed them to receive benefits to hold on to their "cheap" labor. They did it to US back in the 1980's, by shipping our Manufacturing Jobs overseas for cheap labor in exchange for China's "doe", leaving us with Service low-paying jobs.

    July 27, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. diridi

    Target the employers who hire illegals, and non citizens....this ends...ok

    July 27, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. LLL

    Take a look at the figures to help understand what America is up against–
    Analysis of the latest Census data indicates that California's illegal immigrant population is costing the state's taxpayers more than $10.5 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated tax contributions of illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to nearly $9 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden from those three areas of state expenditures amounts to about $1,183 per household headed by a native-born resident.
    This analysis looks specifically at the costs to the state for education, health care and incarceration resulting from illegal immigration. These three are the largest cost areas, and they are the same three areas analyzed in a 1994 study conducted by the Urban Institute, which provides a useful baseline for comparison ten years later. Other studies have been conducted in the interim, showing trends that support the conclusions of this report.
    As this report will note, other significant costs associated with illegal immigration exist and should be taken into account by federal and state officials. But, even without accounting for all of the numerous areas in which costs associated with illegal immigration are being incurred by California taxpayers, the programs analyzed in this study indicate that the burden is substantial and that the costs are rapidly increasing.
    The more than $10.1 billion in costs incurred by California taxpayers is composed of outlays in the following areas:
    • Education. Based on estimates of the illegal immigrant population in California and documented costs of K-12 schooling, Californians spend approximately $7.7 billion annually on education for illegal immigrant children and for their U.S.-born siblings. Nearly 15 percent of the K-12 public school students in California are children of illegal aliens.
    • Health care. Uncompensated medical outlays for health care provided to the state's illegal alien population amount to about $1.4 billion a year.
    • Incarceration. The cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in California's prisons and jails amounts to about $1.4 billion a year (not including related law enforcement and judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration).
    State and local taxes paid by the unauthorized immigrant population go toward offsetting these costs, but they do not come near to matching the expenses. The total of such payments can generously be estimated at about $1.6 billion per year.
    The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost areas. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state's taxpayers would be considerably higher if other cost areas such as special English instruction, school feeding programs, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were added into the equation.

    July 27, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Liz the First

    Just because a lot of people are for something it isn't necessarily the right thing to do. This law is blatantly un-American! it's unconstitutional. and now the immigrant-hating hypocrites on the 'right' who are always screaming about the constitution are perfectly content to ignore it when it says something they don't like, like immigration laws are the jurisdiction of the federal government. as in a lot of other things it's done that the 'right' hates, the Obama administration is 100% correct to challenge this law. how these uber-patriots are embracing gestapo tactics is beyond me. i guess their hate for immigrants overrules their love of this country AND its laws.

    July 27, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Layla

    I am so tired of hearing this will descriminate. We are ALL required to carry documents with us at all times.

    I think Americans are getting sick of hearing from people who demand the same rights as the rest of Americans and who are NOT AMERICANS.

    They are BREAKING THE LAW.

    July 27, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. snow

    Of the 71 percent hispanics who oppose the law, how many were legal versus illegals? The ratio of legal hispanics definitely favor the law because they do not want illegals getting front of the line favortism ahead of other hispanics, etc who have been waiting for years to come here.

    July 27, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. Mara

    is it any surprise that hispanics, many of whom are themselves illegal, or have family members who're illegal, oppose this law? ANY criminal demographic is going to oppose measures designed to curtail their particular genre of crime.

    Poll a bunch of pimps and prostitutes on anti-pandering laws. bet they oppose them.

    Poll drug dealers about drug stings and minimum sentancing guidelines. bet they oppose them.

    Poll taggers on anti-graffitti measures and they'll oppose 'em too.

    ANY law that impacts the profits of a criminal demographic is going to be opposed by that demographic, and probably by others who indirectly profit from their crimes.

    July 27, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Since poll quesitons are never properly written, I'm sure its the CONCEPT of the law they agree with, not the actual law, since neither the polled person nor the poller have read the entire text.
    Too much of our country is run on the results of these ambiguously tainted polls.
    Example: Do you think illegal immigrants should be given citizens rights? Do you think Arizona's new law is a step in the right direction to address this issue? Do you support the Arizona law?
    the answers are done on either a yes or no basis but more often than not on a sliding scale of 1-5 or 1-10 and then reported as this one was that most people support the law.
    They do not know the law to support it.

    July 27, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. wycliffe

    i wish some whites will one day experience what it is to be another race and get discriminated, profiled, or denied some privileges or rights

    July 27, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. JES

    Illegals cost us billions in taxes that could go to the Americans tht need it.

    Get off your butts and get the illegals back to the country they belong in.

    Wake up America get these people out of office that can't even balance our budget no matter who they are.

    July 27, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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