Most voters continue to believe that the policies of the federal government encourage illegal immigration, but voters are now almost evenly divided over whether it's better to let the federal government or individual states enforce 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 illegal immigration, comparable to findings in October 2009 but down slightly from 62% last September after the Arizona immigration law had been in the headlines for several months. Twenty-one percent (21%) disagree and say the federal government does not encourage illegal immigration through its actions, but another 22% aren't sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Forty-seven percent (47%) say relying on the federal government to enforce immigration laws is a better approach than allowing individual states to act on their own to enforce them. Forty-four percent (44%) take the opposite view and say the better approach is to allow states to enforce immigration laws, but that's down 11 points from September.
Consistent with findings for several years, however, are the 68% who say gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers who are already living in the United States. Twenty-five percent (25%) think legalizing illegal immigrants who are already here should come first.
Most voters (64%), in fact, still believe the U.S. military should be used along the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration, down only slightly from last May when President Obama announced he was sending troops there but only to prevent Mexican drug violence from spilling over into this country.
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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters nationwide was conducted on February 2-3, 2011 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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