Californians More Tolerant of Undocumented Immigrants

PHOTO: FILE - In this May 31, 2011 file photo, undocumented immigrant Georgina Perez attends a meeting organizing a rally where illegal immigrant high school students plan to tell their stories and "come out of the shadows" in Atlanta.

A recent poll finds that Californians are increasingly tolerant of undocumented residents – just two decades after voters passed an initiative to bar them from accessing public schools and hospitals.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows that if a similar measure were placed on the ballot today, support and opposition would be tied at around 45 percent.

Proposition 187, dubbed "Save Our State," passed in 1994 with 59 percent of the vote, but courts found it almost entirely unconstitutional.

"The shift [toward tolerance] is partly explained by the growing clout of Latinos, who now make up 20 percent of California voters. But the attitudes of whites also appear to have changed," wrote the Los Angeles Times.

"In another sign of the electorate's evolving attitudes, Californians overwhelmingly are in favor of President Obama's new program granting work permits and a two-year reprieve from deportation to some young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children," continued the Times. "Respondents also favor granting driver's licenses to the same group."

The poll also found that most favor increasing border enforcement and think that local law enforcement have a role to play in enforcing federal immigration policy.

According to the Times, 63 percent of whites supported Proposition 187 in 1994, though only 51 percent would today.

At the same time, Latino support for a similar proposal rose.

In 1994, only 23 percent of Latinos were for Proposition 187. Today, 33 percent of Latinos would support it.

"Foreign-born Latinos opposed Proposition 187 by nearly 2 to 1 in this month's poll, while only 48 percent of third generation Latinos were against it," wrote the Los Angeles Times.

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