Survey of 1,000 Likely Voters
May 16, 2006
President's Approach on Immigration Issue
Agree 39%
Disagree 39%
Most Effective
Build Wall 13%
National Guard Troops 16%
Strict Employer Penalties 63%
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39% Agree With President on Immigration
 
 

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Americans agree with President Bush's approach on the immigration issue. An equal number disagree, while 22% are not sure.

Just 60% of Republicans agree with the President on this issue.

These results are from a Rasmussen Reports national opinion survey taken the night after the President's nationally televised address on the topic. Typically, a Presidential address will increase support for a President's policy approach by several percentage points. Following this speech, Democrats have increased their advantage on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Americans support strict employer penalties to help reduce illegal immigration.

When given a choice between three options, three-fifths (63%) say employer penalties are the most effective approach. Just 16% say using National Guard troops would be more effective. Thirteen percent (13%) say building a wall is the best approach.

At the moment, just 35% believe the President's approach will reduce illegal immigration. Forty-seven percent (47%) do not.

The survey asked participants to choose between two immigration bills. "One would improve control of the borders but do nothing about the status of working immigrants who are here illegally. The other would legalize the status of working immigrants who are here illegally but would do nothing to improve control of the border."

By a 63% to 19% margin, voters prefer the bill that controls the borders but does nothing about the status of illegal aliens.

Still, 53% believe that our national policy goal should be to welcome all immigrants except national security threats, criminals, and welfare seekers. That goal is shared by a majority of those who favor an enforcement first policy.

Sixty-one percent (61%) favor an earned citizenship policy approach "that would let illegal aliens eventually become citizens if they pay a fine for entering the country illegally, pay al back taxes, and learn to speak English." Again, those who prefer the enforcement-first approach share the majority view on this question.

Additional data showing that most Americans believe strict enforcement of immigration laws would help the economy.

These results are generally similar to earlier surveys on the immigration issue. A separate survey conducted the night of President Bush's speech found that just 27% of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction.

A look at all of our research on this topic makes it clear that neither political party has yet developed policy or rhetoric that reflect an understanding of the nuances of the immigration debate. We have recently released immigration related polling data on May 3, April 26, April 11, April 7, and April 1.

Earlier surveys on immigration have found support for building a barrier along the Mexican border and positive attitudes towards citizen patrols along the border. Another survey found that most Americans consider current immigration laws a threat to both national security and the economy. Three-fourths of all Americans believe it is too easy for people from other countries to enter the United States.

Attitudes towards immigration do not fall neatly along typical partisan, demographic, or ideological lines. For this reason, among others, the immigration issue ultimately has the potential to shake up the current partisan alignment in the nation.

However, the impact of the issue varies widely by region. In several southwestern states, the issue is considered more important than the situation in Iraq by roughly half of all voters.


Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports ElectionEdge™ Premium Service for Election 2006 offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a mid-term election. We update the President's Job Approval Ratings daily and are polling competitive Senate and Governor's races at least once a month in 2006.

Rasmussen Reports was the nation's most accurate polling firm during the Presidential election and the only one to project both Bush and Kerry's vote total within half a percentage point of the actual outcome.

During Election 2004, RasmussenReports.com was also the top-ranked public opinion research site on the web. We had twice as many visitors as our nearest competitor and nearly as many as all competitors combined.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.

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