Tuesday, June 8, 2010

US Immigration

Poll: Nevadans back Arizona law on illegal immigration
A majority of Nevadans would welcome an Arizona-style law to crack down on illegal immigrants, according to a new poll commissioned by the Review-Journal.

The survey showed 57 percent of Nevadans would support giving local law enforcement the power to ask people already stopped for possible violations of the law to show proof they are in the country legally, then arrest those who couldn't provide that proof.
Thirty-two percent of Nevadans said they would oppose such a law, while 11 percent were undecided.

The telephone poll of 625 registered Nevada voters June 1-3 by Washington, D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research mirrors recent polls nationwide. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The controversial Arizona law, slated to take effect in the summer, has fueled nationwide debate and helped renew interest in the contentious issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

"It could have just stayed in Arizona, but people have turned it into a national issue," said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon. "People are boycotting the state. People in the (Obama) administration have been criticizing the law. It has become a passionate issue."

Supporters say the law is necessary to protect Arizonans from crimes committed by illegal immigrants, and that the federal government has failed to enforce immigration laws. Critics say the law could lead to racial profiling and make people afraid to report crimes. They say immigration enforcement should remain a federal responsibility. Several federal lawsuits against the law have been filed.

People on both sides of the issue have protested in Arizona and elsewhere.

Nevada Democrats and Republicans differ widely on the issue, according to the poll. Just 31 percent of Democrats said they would support a similar law here, while 85 percent of Republicans said they would. The poll did not break down the results in terms of respondents' ethnic backgrounds. In other polls, a majority of Hispanics have said they oppose the law, Coker said.

Most Republicans in the hotly contested U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races have said Arizona was right to pass the law because the federal government hasn't done a good job securing the U.S.-Mexico border and preventing people from coming across illegally.

U.S. Senate Republican candidate Chad Christensen even launched an initiative petition asking voters to approve an Arizona-like law.

Christensen said he has long advocated cracking down on illegal immigrants, but "there wasn't much of an audience for it until Arizona passed its law."

Before, "people didn't seem concerned enough" to move such measures along, he said Monday.

Now, people are saying, ' "wow, we don't have to wait for the federal government. We can do this as a state,' " he said.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., believes the Arizona law "is a perfect example of why we need comprehensive immigration reform," Jon Summers, a Reid spokesman, said Monday.

Such reform remains a priority for Reid, Summers said, "but it is going to take support from Republicans to get it done."

Michael Flores, Southern Nevada's director of Reform Immigration for America, said the appropriate place to address any "tough enforcement" of immigration laws is in federal immigration reform, which groups such as his have long advocated.

"There is some middle ground," Flores said.

He added that he opposes Arizona's law because of profiling concerns and because he believes it will harm relationships between law enforcement and the community.


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