Rasmussen- The Arizona legislature has now passed the toughest measure against illegal immigration in the country, authorizing local police to stop and check the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 70% of likely voters in Arizona approve of the legislation, while just 23% oppose it.
Opponents of the measure, including major national Hispanic groups, say it will lead to racial profiling, and 53% of voters in the state are concerned that efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants also will end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens. Forty-six percent (46%) don’t share that concern
Those figures include 23% who are very concerned and 18% who are not at all concerned.
Civil rights concerns were a bit higher last year. following a series of aggressive enforcement actions by the Maricopa County Sherriff.
Eighty-three percent (83%) of Arizona voters say a candidate's position on immigration is an important factor in how they will vote, including 51% who say it’s very important.
The measure is already having an impact on this year’s Senate and governor races in the state.
Senator John McCain, who is facing a serious Republican Primary challenge this year in part over his involvement in developing immigration reform legislation, on Monday endorsed the new state law. McCain now earns just 47% support to challenger J.D. Hayworth’s 42% in Arizona’s hotly contested GOP Senate Primary race.
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Arizonans consistently have been critical of the U.S. government’s failure to secure the border with Mexico, and that anxiety has increased with growing drug violence along the border.
While many in Washington, D.C. view immigration reform as a way to legalize the 10 million or more illegal immigrants in the country, 73% of voters in Arizona now say gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of these undocumented workers.
In July of last year, 51% of Arizona voters said it is more important for Congress to pass immigration reform than health care reform.
That view is shared by voters nationwide and has been for several years.
Eighty-four percent (84%) of Arizona Republicans and 69% of voters not affiliated with either major party in the state favor the new get-tough legislation. Democrats are more closely divided: 51% like the new law, but 43% oppose it.
Sixty percent (60%) of Democrats and 57% of unaffiliateds are concerned that the law may lead to possible civil rights violations against U.S. citizens. Fifty-four percent (54%) of Republicans are not very or not at all concerned about this.
Republican Governor Jan Brewer now has the bill on her desk, awaiting either her signature into law or her veto. State Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat who is running against Brewer for governor this year, has announced his opposition to the new law.
The top four GOP contenders for governor of Arizona, including Brewer, have all expanded their support since last month in match-ups with Goddard. The Democrat has lost ground and now trails in all four contests. One factor in the latest trends may have been Goddard’s refusal to join other states in suing the federal government over the new health care law. Brewer found a way to proceed despite Goddard’s refusal and got a big bounce in the polls.
The new law puts into state statute some of the policies that have long been practiced by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But his aggressive enforcement of federal laws against illegal immigration have triggered a Justice Department probe and moves by the Obama administration to reduce his ability to enforce federal immigration laws.
When these moves against Arpaio were first reported in March 2009, 68% of Arizona voters said they had a favorable view of the sheriff. Voters also strongly favored his tactics including police raids on places where illegal immigrants gather to find work.