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Voters Favor 'Kate's Law' Sentences for Illegal Immigrant Felons

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Senate Democrats recently blocked "Kate's Law," legislation intended to impose mandatory prison terms on illegal immigrants convicted of major felonies who have been deported but have again entered the United States illegally. The law was named after Kate Steinle, the young woman murdered this summer in San Francisco by just such a person.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of Likely U.S. Voters favor a five-year mandatory prison sentence for illegal immigrants convicted of major felonies who return to America after being deported. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 27% oppose such legislation, while 18% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Seventy-two percent (72%) of Republicans and 53% of voters not affiliated with either major political party favor a law like the proposed Kate's Law. Democrats agree by a much narrower 43% to 36% margin, with 21% undecided.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters say the federal government is not aggressive enough in punishing illegal immigrants who commit felony crimes in this country. Just 22% believe the government is aggressive enough in punishing these individuals, but nearly as many (19%) are not sure.

Following Steinle's murder by an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been deported several times and come back, 62% of voters said the U.S. Justice Department should take legal action against cities that provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants, and 58% said the federal government should cut off funding for those cities. Republicans in Congress included Kate's Law in legislation to cut funding to “sanctuary cities." President Obama threatened to veto the measure, but Senate Democrats stopped it procedurally.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on October 28-29, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters believe illegal immigration increases the level of serious crime in America. Thirty-three percent (33%) say it has no impact on crime.  More voters than ever feel the United States is not aggressive enough in deporting those who are here illegally.

Even just 27% of Democrats think the federal government is aggressive enough in punishing illegal immigrants who commit felonies. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of GOP voters and 56% of unaffiliateds say the government is not aggressive enough in this area.

The older the voter, the more supportive he or she is of mandatory prison terms for felons who reenter the United States after being deported.

Blacks and whites favor mandatory sentences more than other minority voters do. Other minority voters are also more likely than the others to think the federal government is already aggressive enough in punishing illegal immigrants who commit felonies.

Most voters who favor such mandatory sentencing (77%) think the government is not aggressive enough in punishing illegal immigrants who commit felony crimes. Just 30% of those who oppose the legislation agree, but only 41% of these voters think the government is tough enough on illegal immigrants who commit felonies.

Voters remain seriously worried about illegal immigration and still think stricter border control is the best way to stop it.

Most voters continue to believe the policies and practices of the federal government encourage, rather than discourage, illegal immigration. 

Obama’s plan to exempt millions of illegal immigrants from deportation still remains on hold courtesy of the federal courts, and that’s fine with most voters who continue to oppose the plan.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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