Some opinions that have been overlooked by the media in the last couple of weeks:

• According to an AP/Gfk poll (PDF), 49% of Americans believe that police crackdowns on undocumented or illegal immigrants unfairly target Hispanics

•The same poll found that 79% of Americans believe that it is somewhat, very or extremely likely that police in Arizona will wind up stopping and questioning Hispanics who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants as they try to enforce this law and 65% considers this a serious problem.
•A poll by Quinnipiac University found that 45% of Americans believe that Arizona’s new immigration law will lead to discrimination against Hispanics.

The question is then: Why do the media report that half of Americans support this law despite the overwhelming belief that the Arizona law will lead to discrimination?

A recent bipartisan survey sponsored by America’s Voice Education Fund and conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies of 800 registered voters nationwide might have an answer. The results showed that 78% of all voters supported comprehensive immigration reform, but more importantly 84% of those who supported the Arizona law also (!) support comprehensive immigration reform. 

A quick look at some of the polling outcomes confirm the support for comprehensive immigration reform

•According to a CNN/Opinion Research Cooperation poll, 77% of voters supports “creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the United States for a number of years to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country permanently if they had a job and paid back taxes.”

•According to an AP/Gfk poll (PDF), 59% favor “providing a legal way for illegal immigrants already in the United States to become U.S. citizens?"

•According to a CBS/New York Times poll, 64% of voters agree that “illegal immigrants who are currently working in the U.S… should be allowed to stay in their jobs and to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship, or they should be allowed to stay in their jobs only as guest workers.” 

How is it possible that individuals who support the SB1070 also favor comprehensive immigration reform? Perhaps what Americans are really supporting is not the Arizona bill specifically, but action on immigration in general.

Public opinion polls (PDF) confirm this explanation. 53% of voters prefer a comprehensive national solution to a version of Arizona’s law in their own state. In addition, 52% support the Arizona Immigration law only because they believe that the federal government has failed to solve the problem. 

In other words, what the public really supports is immediate federal action on immigration reform.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

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