Thursday, June 14, 2007

More on Amnesty and Immigration

I got the nicest mention yesterday over at the Iowa Voice, a popular conservative blog from the heartland. The Iowa Voice linked to my recent post, "The Tear-Jerker Case for Amnesty," and suggested that the entry was "A very good read."

Recognition is always appreciated. Yet, I was further intrigued in that Iowa Voice posted on the same Los Angeles Times poll on which I had blogged about yesterday as well (see my entry, "
Large Majority Backs Legalization of Immigrants").

The Iowa Voice entry says, "
Well, Somebody's Lying," and compares the Los Angeles Times' poll showing majority backing for legalization of immigrants to that of a Rasmussen poll, indicating little support for the Senate's current immigration reform bill.

The Times' poll found 63 percent favoring the legalization of illegal aliens. On the other hand, Rasmussen found just 20 percent of voters backing the Senate's immigration reform bill. The Rasmussen poll also found respondents favoring border security and reducing illegal immigration.

These are wide differences of opinion across the two polls. The Iowa Voice suggests:

So it’s pretty clear that someone is spinning (my polite way of saying that they’re lying through their teeth). So which is it? I’m betting the LA Times, because Rasmussen clarifies the position that these people took when asked the question by saying:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters would favor an approach that focuses exclusively on “exclusively on securing the border and reducing illegal immigration.” Support for the enforcement only approach comes from 84% of Republicans, 55% of Democrats, and 69% of those not affiliated with either major party.

Overall, just 21% are opposed to the enforcement-only approach.

Just 30% would favor legislation that focused “exclusively on legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States.” Fifty-seven percent (57%) oppose that strategy, including 63% of Republicans, 52% of Democrats, and 55% of unaffiliated voters.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) favor a proposal giving “all illegal aliens up to three years to leave the United States. After leaving, the illegal aliens would have to get in line and wait their turn for legal entry into the United States.” Support for that concept comes from 67% of Republicans, 49% of Democrats, and 56% of unaffiliated voters.
In other words, they are willing to consider the path to citizenship IF the border is first secured. Nobody is arguing with that. I’ve said as much myself, many times. Build the wall, secure the border, then do whatever you like with those that are already here. But don’t even think of doing this with that border being as open as it is, or we’ll be repeating this in another twenty years…or less.
Actually, looking at the question wording, we see that the two polls actually elicit similar conclusions. Where Rasmussen finds 57 percent favoring reforms giving “all illegal aliens up to three years to leave the United States. After leaving, the illegal aliens would have to get in line and wait their turn for legal entry into the United States.”

The Times' poll posed this detailed query:

Do you support or oppose the following proposals:

Allow undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for a number of years, and who do not have a criminal record, to start on a path to citizenship by registering that they are in the country, paying a fine, getting fingerprinted and learning English, among other requirements?
Sixty-three percent approved, which is just a bit higher than Rasmussen's findings indicating Americans want illegal aliens to "get in line to wait their turn." I don't think anyone's lying here. Rasmussen posed a broader range of questions than the Times' poll, thus breaking down opinion on immigration into finer detail. Both polls capture the same element: Americans want a fair and equitable process, with illegal aliens earning their legalization in some fashion.

I think the different poll findings indicate the importance of understanding question wording, and the level of specificity in surveys. Another blog,
Blue Crab Boulevard, suggests that the L.A. Times' pollsters engaged in "push polling" to elicit such broad backing for legalization. Perhaps. But I'd bet that the clarity and comprehensive nature of the Times' question appealed to reason, and resulted in widespread backing for legalization.

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