Poll: More Than Half of Americans Want Repatriation of Illegal Aliens

Thanks to the Center for Immigration Studies for commissioning a realistic poll about what citizens want done about the millions of illegal aliens in our midst.

Immigration polls are easy to influence by the way the queries are worded, particularly when the liberal media asks questions on the order of, “Should undocumented valedictorians be flogged with a cat o’ nine tails, or should they be given a path to citizenship?”

My fantasy poll questions would be phrased a little differently, like, “Given that a mass amnesty would cost the taxpayers more than $2.6 trillion, would you favor rewarding foreign lawbreakers with immediate work permits allowing them to compete with law-abiding citizens, or should the government require them to return to their homelands?”

The Daily Caller remarked on the squish factor of many mainstream polls:

Immigration reform group says polls showing support for pathway to citizenship are all wrong, Daily Caller, Feb 7, 2013

[. . .] A Gallup poll of adults that was released Feb. 5 showed 72 percent approval among respondents when they were asked “Would you vote for a law that would allow undocumented immigrants living in the United States the chance to become legal residents or citizens if they meet certain requirements?”

But such loose questions — which includes two options, as well as a profusion of vague words, such as “undocumented,” “chance” and “certain requirements” — encourage Americans to express their normal sympathy for immigrants, said Steven Camarota, the research director at Center for Immigration Studies.

“Once you peel that stuff back,” he told The Daily Caller, “what the public generally wants is for illegals to go home and for the law to be enforced.”

The CIS poll was conducted in late January by Pulse Opinion Research. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents were Democrats, 32 percent were Republicans, and 72 percent were white.

Immigration is a “very difficult issue on which to measure public opinion,” said Glen Bolger, a pollster and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies.

Pollsters should pick their words carefully, and ask a series of 15 or more questions, he said. [. . .]

Clearly, care must be taken in designing a poll on a subject as complex as immigration, which encompasses law, emotions, tribalism, sovereignty and the future of the nation. It sounds like the effort from CIS has accomplished that goal. And results indicate a clear majority of citizens prefers the repatriation option, not rewards for foreign lawbreakers.

Americans Prefer Illegal Immigrants Head Home; Results of a National Survey, Center Immigration Studies, February 2013

A new poll using neutral language — and avoiding the false choice of conditional legalization vs. mass deportations — finds that most Americans want illegal immigrants to return to their home counties, rather than be given legal status. The findings also show a very large gap in intensity, with those who want illegal immigrants to head home feeling much stronger about that option than those who would like to see illegal immigrants receive legal status.

• Of likely voters, 52 percent responded that they preferred to see illegal immigrants in the United States go back to their home countries, compared to just 33 percent who would like them to be given legal status.

• There is an enormous gap in intensity between the two views on immigration. Of those who want illegal immigrants to head home, 73 percent indicated that they felt “very strongly” about that view, while just 35 percent of those who want illegal immigrants to get legal status said they felt very strongly about this view.

• One reason the public may prefer that illegals head home is a strong belief that efforts to enforce immigration laws have been inadequate — 64 percent said that enforcement of immigration laws has been “too little”, while just 10 percent said that it had been too much, and 15 percent said it was “just right”.

• When asked why there is a large illegal population in the country, voters overwhelming (71 percent) thought it was because we had not made a real effort to enforce our immigration laws. Only 18 percent said it was because we were not letting in enough immigrants legally.

• Another reason for skepticism about legalization is that most voters (69 percent) agreed with the statement that “giving legal status to illegal immigrants does not solve the problem because rewarding law breaking will only encourage more illegal immigration.” Just 26 percent disagreed.

• When asked if they had confidence that immigration laws would be enforced in the event of a legalization, just 27 percent expressed confidence that there would be enforcement, while 70 percent indicated that they were not confident immigration law would be enforced.

• Enforcement remains politically very popular. Of likely voters, 53 percent indicated that they would be more likely to support a political party that supports enforcing immigration laws vs. only 32 percent who said they would be more likely to support a party that supports legalization.

The poll was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research and is a national survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted January 23-24, 2013. The margin of error for questions is +/-3%. Question wording is provided in the table.

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