Released: May 12, 2010
Broad Approval For New Arizona Immigration Law
Democrats Divided, But Support key Provisions
The public broadly supports a new Arizona law aimed at dealing with illegal immigration and the law’s provisions giving police increased powers to stop and detain people who are suspected of being in the country illegally.
Fully 73% say they approve of requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status if police ask for them. Two-thirds (67%) approve of allowing police to detain anyone who cannot verify their legal status, while 62% approve of allowing police to question people they think may be in the country illegally.
After being asked about the law’s provisions, 59% say that, considering everything, they approve of Arizona’s new illegal immigration law while 32% disapprove.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted May 6-9 among 994 adults, finds that Democrats are evenly split over Arizona’s new immigration law: 45% approve of the law and 46% disapprove. However, majorities of Democrats approve of two of the law’s principal provisions: requiring people to produce documents verifying legal status (65%) and allowing police to detain anyone unable to verify their legal status (55%).
Republicans overwhelmingly approve of the law and three provisions tested. Similarly, among independents there is little difference in opinions of the new Arizona law (64% approve) and its elements, which are viewed positively.
Young people are less supportive of the Arizona immigration law than are older Americans. Fewer than half (45%) of those younger than 30 approve of the new law while 47% disapprove. Majorities of older age groups – including 74% of those 65 and older – approve of the law.
However, even most young people approve of requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status; 61% approve of this element of the law while 35% disapprove. Larger percentages of older age groups support this provision.
Most Disapprove of Obama on Immigration
As has been the case since last fall, the public is highly critical of Barack Obama’s handling of immigration policy. Just 25% approve of the way Obama is handling the issue, while more than twice as many (54%) disapprove. That is little changed from last month (29% approve) and down slightly from last November (31%).
In the current survey, 76% of Republicans disapprove of Obama’s handling of immigration policy, while just 8% approve. Independents disapprove of Obama’s job on the issue by more than two-to-one (57% to 25%). Even among Democrats, as many disapprove (38%) as approve (37%) of the way he is handling the issue, while a quarter (25%) offer no opinion.