A new New York Times/CBS News poll taken April 28 through May 2 of 1,079 adults found 51% favor the anti-immigrant law enacted in Arizona on April 23. Thirty-six percent said it went too far and 9% said it did not go far enough.
A whopping 78% of the respondents said the federal government could do more at the border to keep out illegal immigrants. However, 57% said immigration laws should be determined by the U.S., and not by the states.
The Arizona law makes it a state crime to be in the state without legal documentation. A week after enacting the law April 23, Arizona legislators and Gov. Jan Brewer amended a controversial section allowing police to ask people for legal status only if stopped for questioning in connection with another suspected crime.
The poll indicated Westerners and Northeasterners were more inclined to say the Arizona law went too far.
Americans are split on whether immigration reform should allow a path towards citizenship among the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now in the country. The poll revealed Democrats are more likely than Republicans or independents to support some form of amnesty.
American attitudes towards illegal immigrants remain unchanged with 75% saying they weaken the nation's economy rather than strengthen it, a charge denied by immigration advocates who insist millions pay federal taxes and Social Security payroll taxes but don't receive its benefits when they return to their home countries. Two in 10 respondents said they believe illegal immigrants contribute to the economy working low paying jobs.
If Congress considers immigration reform this year, the poll indicated 45% said it needed fundamental changes, 44% said it needed to be completely rebuilt and 8% said it needed only minor changes.
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