By a fairly wide margin, most Americans support the key provisions of Arizona’s new law which targets illegal immigrants.
A new poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of those questioned think police should be able to question those they believe are in this country illegally. And 67 percent say police should be able to detain anyone unable to verify their legal status.
The survey, conducted last week, also found that 73 percent said people should be required to produce papers verifying they are in this country legally.
Overall, 59 percent of the 994 people questioned said that, considering everything, they support Arizona’s new law.
But the survey, which has a margin of error of 4 percentage points, also showed that political affiliation affects attitude. Just 45 percent of Democrats approve of the new law, versus 64 percent of independents and 82 percent of Republicans.
It also shows a direct correlation between age and support for the law: The older the person questioned, the more likely they are to support the law.
In a separate poll conducted for the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, 70 percent of Hispanics in the country said they are somewhat or strongly opposed to Arizona’s new law.
Only 27 percent of Hispanics are somewhat or strongly supportive of the law. The Wall Street Journal said that compares with 64 percent of everyone questioned.
The disparity apparently stems from concerns that the law will lead to “profiling” of Hispanics despite provisions in the law which specifically bar police from using race, ethnicity or national origin in determining who to question. The WSJ/NBC poll found 82 percent of Hispanics said they fear the law will lead to discrimination, versus 66 percent overall.
In a separate question, Pew researchers found the public becoming increasingly disenchanted with how President Obama is handling immigration policy. In November, 31 percent approved, with 48 percent disapproving; by this month the gap had widened to 25-54.
Separately Wednesday, the Gallup organization found in its own survey a spike in public concern nationwide about immigration.
Just last month, only 2 percent of 1,029 adults questioned listed immigration and illegal aliens as one of the Top Ten problems facing the nation, a figure fairly consistent with prior months. By last week, though, the issue was a top concern of 10 percent of those responding to the survey which has a 4 percentage point margin of error.
The law requires police, when practicable, to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they believe is not in this country legally. It also permits police to charge illegal immigrants with violating state law.