31 March, 2006

Americans Overwhelmingly Reject House Version of Immigration Reform, TIME Poll Shows; And Just What Do Mexicans Think of Us? You May Be Surprised

With the battle over immigration splitting the Republican Party and spilling into the streets in several American cities TIME magazine's Web site posted an extensive poll tonight on the topic.

By an overwhelming tally, the poll shows Americans do not favor a measure passed in the Republican-controlled House that would make felons of illegal aliens.

Seventy-two percent of those polled indicate they prefer a guest worker program like the one proposed by President Bush. Only one in four Americans polled by TIME approve of the House version, which criminalizes illegal aliens and offers no guest worker program.

The approval of a guest worker program is even stronger in border states, where 78% prefer that approach to sending illegals back home.

In addition 78% say consideration should be given to a plan to allow illegals to earn citizenship by holding down a job, learning English and paying taxes.

While not wanting to expel those illegals who are already here, Americans are also quite clear that they want to see the influx of illegal foreign workers halted. More than two-thirds of those polled said illegal immigration is a serious problem and 82% said the government is not doing enough to stop it.

Likewise 62% favor "doing whatever it takes" to stop illegals from entering the country, including the use of the military. Some 56% support building a fence from one end of the U.S.-Mexico border to the other.

The biggest objection Americans have to the continued influx of illegal aliens is the cost of supporting the newcomers. Those questioned would limit illigal aliens' access to government services, with 69% saying they should not be granted driver's licenses, 75% saying they should have no access to health care assistance or food stamps and 51% saying children of illegals should not have access to public education.

About seven in 10 think there should be stiffer punishment for those who hire illegals and 44% of those polled say illegals and their supporters are hurting their cause by conducting the public protests, compared to 14% who say the protests make them more sympathetic to the cause.


Virtually the same number of Americans say they would be more likely to vote for (29%) a candidate who favors criminalization as those who would vote against (28%) a candidate for taking that stance on the issue.

If you don't have time to look over all the numbers click here for TIME's summary story.

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And now that we've summarized Americans' thoughts on illegal aliens, it may be interesting to take a look at how Mexicans see us. A recent Zogby poll, posted below, indicates most Americans think this country is more well off than Mexico because of the opportunities here. But most Mexicans think it's because Americans exploit the other nations of the world

Poll: Majority of Mexicans See US As 'Exploiter'

Why is the United States a wealthier nation than Mexico? A new Zogby poll asked Mexican and American citizens that question and others.

Seventy percent of Americans said the U.S. is wealthier because there is plenty of opportunity and work available in the United States, but 62 percent of Mexicans said the U.S. is wealthier because it exploits others, the Zogby poll said.

As for why Mexico is poorer, 38 percent of Mexicans blamed corruption and 36 percent blamed government policies. Likewise, 36 percent of Americans said Mexico is poorer because of government policies and 35 percent blamed corruption.

The Zogby poll examined how Americans and Mexicans regard each other. It found that 62 percent of Americans believe a strong relationship between the two countries is important for America's future; but only 52 percent of Mexicans said it was important for their country to have a good relationship with the United States.

Immigration

Both Americans and Mexicans agreed that the U.S. economy benefits from the labor of immigrant Mexicans.

Nevertheless, a majority of Americans want U.S. lawmakers to crack down on illegal immigration. Sixty-two percent of Americans said they favor "more restrictive" immigration policies, the Zogby poll said.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans said they would favor a U.S. economic development program for Mexico if Mexico agreed to accept more controls on immigration. But 53 percent of Mexicans opposed that idea.

And while 69 percent of Americans oppose a U.S. proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, 90 percent of Mexicans oppose the idea.

Personal attributes

On a personal level, 84 percent of Americans said they held a positive view of the Mexican people, but only 36 percent of Mexicans had a positive view of Americans.

Other findings:

-- 78 percent of Americans consider Mexicans hard-working, but only 26 percent of Mexicans consider Americans hard-working.

-- 18 percent of Americans consider Mexicans racist, while 73 percent of Mexicans see American as racist.

-- 42 percent of Americans see Mexicans as honest, while only 16 percent of Mexicans see Americans as honest.

The survey was a joint project of Zogby International and a Mexico City-based research and development group.

The survey of Mexicans, conducted Feb. 10-16, included 1,000 interviews and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 points. The survey of Americans, conducted Feb. 3-7, included 1010 interviews and had the same 3.2-point margin of error either way.

(3/20/2006)

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