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Hispanics, Whites, Blacks Not in Complete Agreement on Illegal Immigration

Whites, blacks think illegals cost taxpayers too much; Hispanics disagree

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual poll on Minority Rights and Relations finds that non-Hispanic whites, blacks, and Hispanics share many views about illegal immigrants and what should be done about them, but they diverge on certain issues. All three groups believe illegal immigrants take low-paying jobs Americans don't want and say the government should allow illegal immigrants currently in the United States a path to citizenship. However, Hispanics believe illegal immigrants eventually become productive citizens who pay their fair share of taxes, while whites and blacks think illegal immigrants cost the taxpayers too much with their use of government services. Hispanics are also much more likely than whites or blacks to express concern that legislation Congress is considering will go too far in increasing security along the United States' border with Mexico.

These results are taken from Gallup's June 8-25 poll, which included oversamples of 500 blacks and 506 Hispanics, with interviews conducted in both English and Spanish.

Illegal Immigrants' Impact on U. S. Society

With so much attention focused on illegal immigration this year, there has been increased discussion of whether it is a net plus or a net minus for the United States. On the one hand, some argue a steady wave of illegal immigration puts increased pressure on government services such as border patrols, law enforcement, and public services. On the other hand, some argue it has benefits for the U.S. economy because many illegal immigrants take low-paying jobs that otherwise might go unfilled. The poll shows Americans recognize both the pluses and the minuses of illegal immigration.

Overall, Americans are more than twice as likely to believe that illegal immigrants "cost the taxpayers too much by using government services like public education and medical services" rather than becoming "productive citizens" in the long run who "pay their fair share of taxes." However, there is not consensus on this among all Americans -- Hispanics disagree with whites and blacks. By a 65% to 31% margin, Hispanics say illegal immigrants eventually become productive citizens rather than being a drain on the system. Blacks (56%) and especially whites (74%) tend to view illegal immigrants as a burden on taxpayers.

There is widespread agreement as to whether illegal immigrants are taking jobs from American workers or taking jobs Americans don't want. Roughly three-quarters of Americans, including majorities of blacks, Hispanics, and whites, believe that illegal immigrants mostly take low-paying jobs Americans don't want. Hispanics are most likely to hold this view (81%), but at least two in three whites (74%) and blacks (67%) agree.

The Illegal Immigration Issue

Illegal immigration is clearly a concern for Americans -- it ranks second behind the war in Iraq in Americans' conception of the most important problem facing the country today. In the Minority Rights and Relations poll, 17% of Americans mentioned immigration as the top problem in response to this open-ended question. Notably, it is a much greater concern for whites (19%) and Hispanics (21%) than for blacks (6%).

Both houses of Congress have passed legislation to deal with the issue of illegal immigration, but it is unclear if a law will be signed this year because the bills have different priorities. The Senate bill has provisions to increase border security but also would provide a way for illegal immigrants living in the United States to become citizens if they meet certain requirements. The House bill addresses only security along U.S. borders. While many House members support attempts to deal with the status of illegal immigrants, they argue that the border security problem should be resolved first. President Bush believes new immigration laws should tackle both issues.

The poll finds most Americans favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as the way to address the status of illegal immigrants living in the United States. Two in three Americans say the United States should "allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S. citizens, but only if they meet certain requirements over a period of time." The remainder of the public divides about evenly between allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the United States to work for a limited amount of time (17%) and "deporting all illegal immigrants back to their home country" (16%).

Hispanics (86%) overwhelmingly support the path to citizenship approach, while a lesser majority of whites (63%) and blacks (69%) do so.

Given the disagreement in Washington on how to proceed on the issue, the poll asked Americans whether they were more concerned that new immigration laws would go too far or not far enough to increase security on the U.S.-Mexican border and, separately, to develop a plan to deal with illegal immigrants living in the United States.

In general, Americans are more concerned that the new laws will not go far enough to adequately address either issue.

As you may know, Congress is considering new laws to deal with the issue of illegal immigration. What concerns you more -- that the new laws will go too far -- or will not go far enough -- to [ITEMS ROTATED]?

A. Increase security along the U.S. border with Mexico

Will go
too far

Will not go
far enough

No
opinion

Total

2006 Jun 8-25

31%

66

3

B. Develop a plan to deal with the large number of illegal immigrants who are already living in the U.S.

Will go
too far

Will not go
far enough

No
opinion

Total

2006 Jun 8-25

28%

66

6

On the matter of border security, Hispanics' views diverge from those of whites and blacks. Fifty percent of Hispanics are more concerned the new laws will go too far to increase border security, while 43% are more concerned they will not go far enough. Two in three whites and blacks are more concerned the laws will not go far enough to increase security.

A majority of all three racial and ethnic groups are concerned the new laws will not adequately develop a plan to deal with illegal immigrants residing in the United States. Whites are most likely to express this concern, while blacks and especially Hispanics are less likely to do so.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 2,032 adults, including oversamples of 500 blacks and 506 Hispanics, aged 18 years and older, conducted June 8-25, 2006. The total sample is weighted so that it reflects the national adult population. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±6 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For results based on the sample of 500 blacks, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 506 Hispanics, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points (167 out of the 506 interviews with Hispanics were conducted in Spanish).

For results based on the sample of 872 non-Hispanic whites, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

17. Which comes closest to your view about what government policy should be toward illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States? Should the government -- [ROTATED: deport all illegal immigrants back to their home country, allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States in order to work, but only for a limited amount of time, or allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S. citizens, but only if they meet certain requirements over a period of time]?

FULL NATIONAL ADULT TREND


Deport
all

Remain in the
U.S. in order
to work

Remain in
the U.S.
and become
citizens


No
opinion

2006 Jun 8-25

16%

17

66

1

2006 May 5-7

21%

15

61

3

2006 Apr 7-9

18%

17

63

2

Gallup


Gallup http://news.gallup.com/poll/23620/Hispanics-Whites-Blacks-Complete-Agreement-Illegal-Immigration.aspx
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