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Shocker: Most Backers of Arizona Law Support Humane Immigration Reform

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Cross-Posted at Huffington Post.

With national polls showing majority support for Arizona’s harsh immigration law, you probably think these voters are hard liners determined to rid the country of immigrants and deny a path to legal status for all of the undocumented immigrants in the U.S., right?


Here’s a shocker: four out of five voters who support Arizona’s new “papers-please” law also support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. On the flip side, a paltry one in five support rounding up and deporting everyone here illegally.

In a bipartisan survey sponsored by America’s Voice Education Fund and conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies of 800 registered voters nationwide, with an oversample of 300 Latino registered voters, we sought to understand the motivations and sentiments underlying the top line support for Arizona’s tough immigration law.  Here is what we found:

  • Three out of five voters nationwide do indeed support the Arizona law.  Not surprisingly, a majority of Latino voters oppose the law.
  • At the same time, four out of five of the voters who support the Arizona law also support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.  Only one out of five support deportation as the preferred policy option when asked what to do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. 

  • In addition, strong majorities believe that illegal immigration is a national problem, prefer comprehensive reform to Arizona-style laws in their state, and want the problem of illegal immigration acted on now.

Here are the numbers.  Like other polls, our latest shows that 60% of voters support the Arizona law nationwide, while 23% oppose it.  No news there.  But consider this finding:  Fully 78% of all voters supported comprehensive immigration reform.  Moreover, a whopping 84% of those who supported the Arizona law also supported comprehensive immigration reform. 

This bears repeating:

More than 4 out of 5 voters who support the Arizona law support comprehensive reform with a path to citizenship.  And 67% of them strongly support comprehensive immigration reform.