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Sharp divides on Arizona immigration law

at 12:08 PM ET, 06/25/2012

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn large portions of an Arizona immigration law but retain a controversial provision allowing police officers to make stops and demand immigration papers lands in an American electorate deeply divided on the rightness of the law.

Broadly, the American public is supportive — and has been for some time of the Arizona law, which is known as SB 1070; nearly six in 10 in a recent Pew Research Center poll said they approved of the law.

But support and opposition divide harshly along racial lines and partisan lines.

In the Pew data, whites approved of the Arizona law by more than 2 to 1, but most African Americans disapproved, and opposition swelled to 75 percent among Hispanics. And, support was more than twice as high among Republicans as among Democrats (84 to 41 percent). Among independents, 59 percent of approved of the law while 37 percent disapproved.

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On another key issue before the Court, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found a nearly evenly split decision on whether the federal government should have sole responsibility for immigration laws. A 52 percent majority took that view, while 46 percent thought states should be allowed to make and enforce immigration laws. A June 2012 CBS News/New York Times poll found wide support for a dual approach, with 62 percent saying both federal and state governments should have a role in deciding how to deal with illegal immigration.

Despite overwhelming opposition among Hispanics, a USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday confirms that immigration is not the No. 1 issue for these, or any, voters. Just 12 percent of Hispanic voters said it was the most important issue to them – a question asked in an open-ended format – while 21 named health care and 19 percent unemployment, 17 percent picked economic growth and 16 percent the rich-poor gap. Almost as many Hispanics said the federal budget deficit was their top issue as chose immigration.

The USA Today/Gallup poll found Obama leading Romney by a 66 to 25 percent margin among Hispanic registered voters, similar to other recent polls and a slightly wider than Obama’s 67 to 31 percent margin over McCain in 2008 in exit poll results.

 
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