A vast majority of Arizonans want immigration policies changed so that foreign workers can come and go without breaking the law, according to results of a new statewide poll.
The survey released Tuesday by the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center found that 73 percent — 590 of the Arizonans surveyed — favor changes that would permit foreign workers to be in the United States legally.
It also found that 76 percent believe the federal government, not the state, is responsible for securing the borders.
“It’s true that everyone is concerned about securing the borders, because they fear terrorism or they don’t think it’s appropriate that we have a sieve for a border,” said Earl de Berge, research director for the center, a polling firm. “On the other hand, it’s pretty clear they’re pretty cross-conflicted on this, that they see humanitarian issues in it.”
The results appear to bolster another recent survey on immigration issues by the same firm. That poll found that 93 percent of 401 registered voters in Mesa agree that foreign workers should be allowed to work in the United States, as long as they do so legally.
The polling firm said that in general, the latest findings support an immigration plan proposed by President Bush, which includes a guest worker program.
The poll results were released against the backdrop of sharp divisions over various immigration reform proposals in the U.S. Senate and House.
The Senate version calls for increased border security, a temporary-worker program and a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already living in the United States. The House version focuses on border security, without the guest worker and citizenship provisions.
The two chambers are expected to discuss a compromise bill before the November elections.
Michelle Dallacroce, founder of Phoenix-based Mothers Against Illegal Aliens, didn’t believe the survey’s finding that most Arizonans support a temporary worker program.
“I don’t think that’s the American people that are here within the Valley that are saying that. I guarantee you that’s not,” Dallacroce said.
But Hector Yturralde, treasurer of the immigration reform group We Are America, said the poll results are encouraging. “That’s wonderful. I think that that is a start in the right direction,” he said.
His work with We Are America, a coalition in Phoenix, led him to believe there was less support for a guest worker program.
“The state is very conservative. They lean towards anti-immigration, period,” he said. “They want to put the military on the border. They want to stop people from coming over and working and they want to get rid of those who are working.”
The telephone survey was conducted between May 1-9. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.