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Quinnipiac University Poll Shows Support Nationwide For Tough Immigration Laws

Mark Spencer

June 01, 2010

A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday shows most Americans support the tough immigration law adopted by Arizona in April, but it appears unlikely a similar measure would gain traction in Connecticut.

Confirming results from other national polls on the issue, 51 percent of voters surveyed in the Quinnipiac poll approved of the Arizona law, while 31 percent disapproved.

In a question that Quinnipiac pollsters said they believed was unique to their survey, 48 percent of respondents said they wanted a similar law adopted in their states, while 35 percent did not.

The Arizona law gives police broad power to demand immigration documents and detain those suspected of being in the country illegally. Supporters say it gives authorities an important tool to identify and deport illegal immigrants, but opponents say it will lead to racial profiling.

The law has rekindled the national debate on immigration, which is likely to intensify as the Obama administration prepares to launch a drive to reform what people on all sides of the issue see as a broken system.

Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said support for the law and a desire to have more states adopt a similar measure fall along the same demographic patterns. More than two-thirds of Republicans and more than half of independent voters favor both, but less than a third of Democrats agree.

Voters 18 to 34 years old oppose such a law in their states by 43 to 36 percent, while voters 35 and older support the idea, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,914 registered voters nationwide May 19 to 24. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

Brown said immigration could become an issue in upcoming state legislative races around the country.

The issue has yet to emerge this campaign season in Connecticut, although the state and some cities have grappled with immigration in recent years. Democrats have held firm majorities in the Senate and House and in 2007 approved a bill that would have allowed students who were illegal immigrants but were longtime Connecticut residents to pay in-state tuition at public universities and colleges.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, vetoed the bill.

State Sen. Dan Debicella, R- Shelton, one of the bill's strongest opponents, said he thought it was unlikely Connecticut would consider an Arizona-like proposal.

"Arizona is in such a different situation than we have," Debicella said. "We obviously have an illegal immigration problem, but it's nothing like Arizona."

Debicella, who is the Republican nominee in the 4th Congressional District, said voters are growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of immigration reform.

"But that shouldn't be an Arizona solution or a Connecticut solution," he said. "It should be a federal solution."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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