Never mind the racial profiling. Never mind the fact that the new Arizona law aimed at illegal immigrants accomplishes little except harassment of the Spanish-speaking. Never mind the fact that Arizona is taking a big hit on tourism dollars because of it. Another poll shows most Americans think it’s a fine idea.
That includes nearly half of Democrats. From McClatchey:
A strong majority of Americans support Arizona’s controversial new immigration law and would back similar laws in their own states, a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found.
Sixty-one percent of Americans — and 64 percent of registered voters — said they favored the law in a survey of 1,016 adults conducted May 6-9.
Strikingly, nearly half of Democrats like the law, under which local law enforcement officers are tasked with verifying people’s immigration status if they suspect them of being in the country illegally. While the Democratic Party generally is regarded as more sympathetic to illegal immigrants’ plights, 46 percent of Democrats said they favored the law for Arizona and 49 percent said they’d favor the law’s passage in their own states.
More than 8 in 10 Republicans and 54 percent of independents favor the law.
In addition, about 69 percent of Americans said they wouldn’t mind if police officers stopped them to ask for proof of their citizenship or legal rights to be in the country; about 29 percent would mind, considering it a violation of their rights; and about 3 percent were unsure.
A separate Pew Research Center poll on the Arizona law released Wednesday found similar sentiments.
The oddest thing about all the support for the law is that, while it supposedly stems from outrage over crimes committed by illegal immigrants, crime is down in Arizona:
But while the situation in Arizona is dire in some respects, it’s actually improving, not getting worse. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics notes that violent crimes in the state fell from 512 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 447 per 100,000 people in 2008, the last year data was compiled.
And, despite the clamor about dangerous immigrants, crime rates are lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates — such as Arizona. Crime in the 19 states with the highest immigrant populations dropped by 13.6 percent from 1994 to 2004, compared to 7.1 percent for the other 32 states.
Finally, although the U.S. illegal immigrant population doubled to about 12 million from 1994 to 2004, the violent crime rate nationwide declined by 35.1 percent while the property crime rate fell by 25 percent. So, more illegal immigrants does not equate to more crime.
Critics accuse the federal government of doing nothing about illegal immigration. But there are more Border Patrol officers now on duty than ever before, and heightened enforcement has been a significant factor in reducing the number of illegal immigrants entering the country.
The law is also going to make the economy in Arizon worse. Tourism has taken a hit:
Since the state passed the nation’s toughest immigration law three weeks ago, its meeting and events business has fallen drastically.
Hispanic civil rights groups are boycotting Arizona and urging others to do the same. Officials at the National Council of La Raza, one of the groups driving the boycott, had privately asked the RNC not to meet in Phoenix.
The city risks losing as much as $90 million in hotel and convention business over the next five years because of the controversy, according to city estimates released Wednesday. The state’s hotel and lodging association has counted 23 canceled meetings for a loss of between $6 and $10 million. On Wednesday, Los Angeles became the largest city to join the boycott.
More than anything else, the poll shows how emotional an issue immigration is in this country — and the reason few politicians have any stomach for dealing with it.