Only 16% of American voters believe illegal immigration will decline if the Senate bill is passed
There’s a simple reason the immigration bill being debated by the U.S. Senate is unpopular with voters—the general public doesn’t believe it will reduce illegal immigration. And, in the minds of most voters, that’s what immigration reform is all about.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 16% of American voters believe illegal immigration will decline if the Senate bill is passed. Seventy-four percent (74%) disagree. That figure includes 41% who believe the Senate bill will actually lead to an increase in illegal immigration.
If voters had a chance to improve the legislation, 75% would “make changes to increase border security measures and reduce illegal immigration.” Just 29% would” make it easier for illegal immigrants to stay in the country and eventually become citizens.”
Voters who believe that the current bill will succeed in reducing illegal immigration favor its passage by a 51% to 31% margin. Those who believe the bill will lead to even more illegal immigration oppose its passage by a 70% to 12% margin.
Overall, despite a major push by the President and others over the past week, support for the Senate bill has not increased at all. In polling conducted last night (Tuesday, May 29), 26% of voters favor passage of the bill. That’s unchanged from the 26% support found in polling conducted the previous Monday and Tuesday. Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters remain opposed.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of American voters are closely following news stories about the issue, including 37% who are following it Very Closely. Those with the highest interest in the issue oppose the legislation by a 3-to-1 margin (69% to 23%). By a 55% to 15% margin, those following the story Very Closely believe the bill will lead to increased levels of illegal immigration.
Unaffiliated voters are now more opposed to the bill than either Republicans or Democrats. Among those who don’t identify with either of the major parties, 22% support the Senate bill while 57% are opposed.
Some supporters of the bill have tried to suggest it is politically popular by citing polling data for selected features of the bill. However, President Bush yesterday implicitly acknowledged the strong public opposition to the bill by stating that elected officials will need political “courage” to pass the measure. Senator Jon Kyl (R), a major supporter of the legislation, acknowledged in interviews that the lack of support measured by Rasmussen Reports is an accurate reflection of the public mood.
Rasmussen Reports polling, like that of other firms, has found that Americans may be willing to accept a compromise proposal that includes legalizing the status of the 12 million illegal aliens already living in the United States. Sixty-five percent (65%) said they would accept such a compromise provided that it accomplished the primary goal of reducing illegal immigration. However, arguing about the nuances of amnesty, guest-worker programs and other provisions will do nothing to build popular support without proof that the government is serious about controlling the border.
Seventy-two percent (72%) of voters believe it is Very Important for “the government to improve its enforcement of the borders and reduce illegal immigration.”
Many times, voters doubt that reasonable alternatives exist. But, 68% of Americans believe it is possible to reduce illegal immigration while just 20% disagree. A New York Times/CBS News poll found a similar result--82% believe the federal government could do more to reduce illegal immigration.
The belief that the issue could be addressed adds to the frustration of those who oppose the Senate bill. Sixty-six percent (66%) believe it doesn't make sense to debate new immigration laws until we can first control our borders and enforce existing laws.
Other recent surveys have found that Senator John McCain (R), a strong proponent of the Senate bill, has slipped to third place in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination. President Bush’s Job Approval ratings have fallen to the lowest levels of his Administration since the immigration debate began dominating the news.
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