Survey: A Divide Over Immigration Plan

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

If Fresno is an appropriate test market for political issues then the country is as a whole is evenly divided on President Barack Obama’s immigration proposals. A Survey USA poll taken on Friday after the president’s announcement tallied a dead even split in Fresno. One-third of Fresno residents who were aware of the president’s proposal agree with all his changes; one-third disagrees, and one-third agrees with some changes and disagrees with other changes.

On the major controversy over the legality of Obama’s move, half of Fresno says the president has the authority to make the changes, half of Fresno says he does not have the authority.

Of course, Fresno may not be a model test market for political ideas, especially on the immigration issue. California leads the country in the number of immigrants who have entered the country illegally and therefor the issue of immigration has a different context here than in other states in the union.

In fact, Fresno may not be a test market for the state of California as a whole. Although not polling specifically on the president’s actions recent California polls tested questions about the impact of immigrants in the state earlier this year.

The Public Policy Institute of California poll in September found that 61% agreed that immigrants strengthen the state through their hard work while 32% said they are a burden because they use public services. Contrast that to the Survey USA poll that asked similar questions and came up with the result that 42% said immigrants were a strength; 49% said they were a burden.

However, on the question: Should undocumented aliens be allowed to stay in the country if they met certain conditions? Fresno respondents said Yes, 59% to 37%.

In a question whether there should be a path for citizenship, 58% agreed there should be a path for some, 15% said there should be a path for all, while 24% said there should be no path. The question didn’t define who those “some” would be or how they would qualify. An earlier PPIC poll found that 86% found that Californians supported a path to citizenship.

Have Californians moved some on this issue since earlier polls or are the Survey USA results in Fresno specific to the president’s action and a reflection about how some of the respondents feel about the president?

National reporting on the president’s move focuses on the acrimony between the president and the Republicans in Congress over the question of which branch of government has the power to make the decision over this issue. Republicans in Congress are weighing a number of options in responding to the president’s action.

Republican leaders have said they want to deal with the immigration issue. With the Republicans taking over full control of Congress, the answer for them would be to take up and pass an immigration reform that puts their stamp on immigration fixes.

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