Immigration, Anti-Terrorism Efforts Affecting Image of U.S. and Obama Abroad, Study Finds

On average, more people around the world have a favorable view of the United States than in past years, but changes in U.S. policies on immigration and terrorism have put a dent in President Obama's and the country's image in key partner countries, such as Mexico and Egypt, according to a Pew Research Center survey on global attitudes.

Arizona's controversial immigration law that gives law enforcement greater authority to arrest illegal immigrants has met with disapproval in Mexico, as expected. But according to Pew, it has also tarnished Obama's image, even though the president has called the law "misguided."

Thirty-six percent of Mexicans surveyed by Pew had confidence in Obama's international leadership, down from 47 percent before the Arizona law's passage. Fifty-four percent of Mexicans said they disapproved of the way Obama had responded to the new law. That number jumped to 75 percent for Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

Forty-four percent of Mexicans gave the United States a favorable rating, down from 62 percent before the law's signing.

It's "pretty clear that the law in Arizona has had quite a negative impact," said Andy Kohut, president of Pew Research Center. "It's probably a bit of an emotional reaction. There's a long complicated history between Mexico and the United States, and no one thinks it's going to change."

Immigration is a contentious issue between the United States and Mexico. On his state visit to the White House in May, President Felipe Calderon assailed the new immigration law -- an unusual step for a visiting head of state -- saying such measures are "forcing our people to face discrimination."

In contrast, more Americans support the Arizona law and back tougher measures against illegal immigrants. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today found that nearly six in 10 Americans favored the Arizona law. However, less than half -- 46 percent -- believed the states should have the power to make and enforce their own immigration laws.

In addition to immigration, U.S. terrorism policies also earned strong disapproval ratings in not just Muslim countries but in places where the United States is generally looked upon favorably, including Argentina, Japan and South Korea, according to Pew.

Unlike the Bush administration, though, a majority of survey respondents in Britain, France, Spain and Germany expressed support for U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.

While the United States is looked upon positively in most parts of the world, its favorability ratings declined in Muslim countries, such as Egypt, where 17 percent had a favorable view of the United States, down from 27 percent the previous year, and in Turkey, where 17 percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of the United States.

Among most of the Muslim population, with the exception of Indonesia, the slight uptick in confidence and approval in 2009, following Obama's election, slipped again, according to Pew.

"If you look at the things people in the Muslim world haven't liked about the United States over the past decade, they're still there," Kohut said. "One is distrust of anti-terrorism efforts, which are largely seen as anti-Muslim, and second that United States is not an honest broker in dealing with Israel and Palestine."

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