News for Public Officials and the People They Serve

Polls Find Extensive National Support for Arizona's New Immigration Law

Two recently published polls reveal the fact that Americans – both in and outside Arizona – strongly support a powerful new immigration law that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer authorized last month. The polls came as open borders lobbyists have stepped up their attacks on the Arizona law, filing lawsuits to prevent its implementation and continuing to incorrectly claim that it will lead to “racial profiling.”

On May 12, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey showing that 59 percent of individuals across the country approve of the Arizona law. (Report, May 12, 2010). More precisely, the survey found that 73 percent of the public “approve of requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status if police ask for them,” and 67 percent support “allowing police to detain anyone who cannot verify their legal status.”

The survey additionally determined that 62 percent “approve of allowing police to question anyone they think may be in the country illegally,” (Id.) even though the scope of such actions happens to be broader than what is reflected in the Arizona law. The law actually only requires a law enforcement officer to attempt to verify an individual’s immigration status if – during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest only – the officer develops a reasonable suspicion that the individual is unlawfully present in the United States. (See Arizona HB 2162, amending SB 1070).

Pew released its survey on the same day NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released the results of a survey showing that 64 percent of Americans support the Arizona law. Speaking on NBC Nightly News, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd commented on the poll’s methodology: “We read them the law verbatim, exactly as it’s been written. 64 percent approve of it, 34 percent oppose it.” (NBC Nightly News, May 12, 2010).

Last week’s Arizona surveys coincided with the release of reports from Rasmussen and Gallup indicating that the number of people who view immigration as an “important” problem has increased dramatically over the last month. With the federal government’s continued refusal to enforce immigration laws, these new polls indicate most Americans prefer enabling states and municipalities to step in and fill the void.