Poll results need to be taken with a grain of salt. Issues regarding the ability to extrapolate a national opinion from a random sample of participants, what questions are posed and finally the biases of the organization commissioning the poll all need to be considered. Polls are also a snapshot of people’s opinions on a particular day, which is why we often see weekly polls commissioned by different organizations, often with different results. For example, if one poses the question: “Do you support amnesty giving citizenship to illegals?” The majority answer would be “no”. However, if the complete question is: “Do you support a path to legalization the status of undocumented workers if they (1) pay a fine, (2) pay back taxes, (3) undergo a criminal background check that comes up clean, (4) learn English and (5) go to the back of the line behind those who have applied under existing laws.” The results would be different. This would especially be true if in addition to the question above, it would be clear the the interviewee that such a legalization process would be offered in conjunction with increased border security, tamper-proof work authorization cards, and increased enforcement against employers who violate the law.
Attorney General Holder and DHS Secretary Napolitano have both been criticized for not having read the Arizona immigration law on which they remarked. It is fair to assume that almost all of those who were randomly polled about this law did not read it either. Therefore, support for the law by poll participants is based on the second-hand accounts that they have either heard or read about the law. The conclusion one may draw from these results is that the majority of Americans want something done about illegal immigration. This is true on both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, Arizona has taken a punitive stance on a national issue that has led or will lead to boycotts of the state likely to cost local businesses tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue and lead to a loss of hospitality jobs.
Arizona’s actions should be a catalyst for Congress and the President to enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Immigration is a national issue and if the existing laws are outdated and ineffective, which they are, they need to be changed.