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Voters Still Fault Feds For Illegal Immigration

Most voters continue to believe federal government policies encourage illegal immigration, but they still aren’t convinced states should go it alone in enforcing immigration laws.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think the policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally, the highest level of cynicism since June 2012. Twenty-eight percent (28%) disagree, while 15% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The number of voters who believe the federal government encourages illegal immigration reached a high of 62% in September 2010 but has mostly stayed in the mid-to high-50s in regular surveying for several years.

Still, 48% think relying on the federal government rather than states to enforce immigration laws is the best approach to dealing with illegal immigration. That’s down two points from last August but is in line with findings since February 2011. Forty-two percent (42%) think it’s better to allow individual states to act on their own. Ten percent (10%) are undecided. Support for state action was slightly higher in 2011.

Most voters (61%) still favor strict government sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Twenty-four percent (24%) oppose such sanctions, while 15% are undecided. Support for these sanctions have run in the high 50s to low 60s for years, and Americans told us in a 2013 survey that employer sanctions are the most effective way to stop illegal immigration.

Voters remain more conflicted when it comes to landlords who rent or sell property to illegal immigrants. Forty-four percent (44%) favor strict government sanctions against them. Thirty-four percent (34%) are opposed, while 22% are undecided. These attitudes haven't changed much over the years either.

But 57% believe if a police officer pulls someone over for a traffic violation, the officer should automatically check to see if that person is in the country legally. Thirty-three percent (33%) disagree, and 10% are not sure. These findings also have stayed fairly steady for years, although support for these checks hit a high of 73% in March 2009.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 4-5, 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.

Most voters continue to believe that securing the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already here and think plans to offer legal status to such individuals will just encourage more illegal immigration.

Seventy-five percent (75%) of Republicans and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major political party believe the policies and practices of the federal government encourage illegal immigration. Democrats by a narrow 44% to 39% disagree. Most Republicans (62%) and unaffiliated voters by a 46% to 42% margin think states should be allowed to enforce immigration laws on their own, but 68% of Democrats think they should rely on the feds.

Sixty percent (60%) of voters who believe government policies encourage people to come here illegally favor allowing states to act on their own to enforce immigration laws. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of those who don’t believe government policies encourage illegal immigration think enforcement of such laws should be left to the federal government.

White voters are generally more supportive of strict sanctions against employers who hire illegal immigrants and landlords who rent or sell property to such individuals than black and other minority voters are. White voters also show stronger support for automatic police checks during traffic stops.

More than half of all voters remain opposed to President Obama’s new plan that will allow nearly five million illegal immigrants to remain in this country legally and apply for jobs. Forty-seven percent (47%) of voters think Congress should try to find ways to stop the president’s plan, while 41% believe Congress should allow this decision to stand.

Most voters continue to think the federal government should only do what the president and Congress agree on. They also still believe a president should not be able to change laws passed by Congress on his own.

However, just 17% of voters are even somewhat confident that the president and Republicans in Congress will be able to work together to do what’s best for the American people, and that includes only four percent (4%) who are Very Confident.

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

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 4-5, 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.

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