ABC News Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 Back Arizona Immigration Law

New ABC News poll finds support for Arizona's controversial immigration law.

ByABC News
March 12, 2010, 5:17 PM

June 17, 2010— -- Most Americans back tougher measures against illegal immigrants, including a controversial new Arizona law – but also a path to citizenship for those here now. Both approaches address the public's longstanding concern: not that they're immigrants, but illegal ones.

Nearly six in 10 in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll favor a much-debated law in Arizona giving police the power to ask people they've stopped to verify their residency status. There is room for pushback, though, in that fewer, 46 percent, think the states should have power to make and enforce their own immigration laws, one criticism of the Arizona statute.

Click here for a PDF with charts and questionnaire.

In addition to support for the law, Americans overwhelmingly continue to say the country's not doing enough to keep illegal newcomers out of this country, and to favor use of National Guard troops in border control.

At the same time, 57 percent support giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements.

Arizona's law is to take effect July 29, despite the threat of a challenge from the U.S. Justice Department, suggestions it could lead to racial profiling and opposition from some police chiefs, including those in Phoenix and Tucson, who've said it could divert police resources and dissuade illegal immigrants from cooperating with investigations.

Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer, has said the state was forced to act given the federal government's failure to stanch illegal immigration. That resonates: Americans share broad, deep and persistent dissatisfaction with the federal effort, and it relates to their views on the Arizona law.

Seventy-five percent in this poll say the United States is not doing enough to keep illegal immigrants out of the country; 58 percent feel that way strongly. Both numbers have been at about at these levels in ABC/Post polls back more than five years.

Support for the Arizona law peaks, at 74 percent, among people who feel strongly that the United States isn't doing enough to stop illegal immigration. Among people who feel that way, but not strongly, just 41 percent support the Arizona measure, and support drops to 31 percent among those who think the United States is doing enough.