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Sanctions on Employers, Sanctuary Cities Seen As Most Effective Ways to Stop Illegal Immigration

Friday, April 12, 2013

Most Americans continue to believe it is important to secure the border to prevent future illegal immigration, but there’s little talk about how exactly the government should go about doing that. Rasmussen Reports tested some of the tools that have been mentioned to see how effective Americans think they would be.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds 78% of American Adults think it is at least somewhat important to secure the border to prevent future illegal immigration, including 57% who view it as Very Important. Seventeen percent (17%) see border security as not very or Not At All Important. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty percent (50%) think strong penalties against U.S. employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants would reduce future illegal immigration a lot. The same number (50%) also believe ending all federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities would have a big impact on the flow of illegals into this country.

Nearly as many (48%) think limiting or ending automatic U.S. citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants in the United States would reduce illegal immigration a lot.    Two of the most oft-mentioned solutions to the illegal immigration problem – building a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border and putting more Border Patrol agents along that border – are seen as less effective. Forty-one percent (41%) think more Border Patrol agents would do a lot to prevent future illegal entry, but only 33% say the same of building a border fence.   

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of all Americans believe strong penalties against landlords who knowingly rent to illegal immigrants would do a lot to reduce the problem. Thirty-four percent (34%) think making English the official language of the United States would do a lot to reduce illegal immigration.

Only (19%) see the same level of impact from allowing more guest workers to temporarily live in the United States before returning home.  

“Concerns about border security remain the biggest threat to passage of immigration reform,” noted Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “It’s interesting that solutions focusing on incentives for crossing the border are seen as more effective than physical deterrence at the border.”

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on April 10-11, 2013, 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.    

Americans who rate border security as Very Important express a lot more confidence in all these tools. Seventy-four percent (74%) of these adults think ending federal funding for sanctuary cities would reduce future illegal immigration a lot, and 68% say the same of tough employer sanctions and ending automatic citizenship for those born here to illegal immigrants. Sixty-two percent (62%) believe having more agents on the border would do a lot.

Overall, 59% favor comprehensive immigration reform that both secures the border and legalizes the status of those who crossed the border illegally but have otherwise obeyed the law. However, both components must be in place to win support. There is little public support for a plan without border security or for a plan with only border security.

Only 38% believe it is even somewhat likely that the federal government would make a serious effort to secure the borders and reduce illegal immigration.

These findings echo attitudes held by Americans for years. Most voters, for example, favor strong sanctions on those who hire illegal immigrants and landlords who rent to them. Fifty-one percent (51%) say a child born in this country to an illegal immigrant should not automatically be granted U.S. citizenship.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) favor a complete cut-off of federal funding to all cities that give sanctuary to illegal immigrants. Seventy-percent (70%) of voters support a guest worker program that would allow workers to stay in the United States temporarily if they have a job, but 73% think states should determine how many guest workers to allow within their boundaries. Fifty-seven percent (57%) think the United States should continue building a border fence.

Sixty-one percent (61%) support an immigration reform plan that includes making English the official language of the United States.

Attitudes about official English suggest that “Washington needs to expand the national political debate: What happens after immigrants get here has a lot to do with how voters will view the laws regarding how they cross the border,” Scott Rasmussen contends in a recent newspaper column.

Voters continue to think immigration is good for America as long as it is done in a legal fashion.

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