Thursday, September 24, 2020

Poll Shows More than Half of Texans Support Arizona-like Law

A new poll for the state’s five largest newspapers shows that over half the voters in Texas support an Arizona-like law with the issue deeply dividing them along racial and party lines.

A total of 53 percent of respondents said they would support such a law, but that number is down from previous polls on the issue.  Rice University political science professor Mark Jones and pollster Mickey Blum said responses in the poll were affected by the question’s wording.  It described the law and arguments over it, including the argument that it could lead to racial profiling.

“Once people learn about the law, it actually reduces their support for it,” Jones said. “If you just ask about the Arizona-style law … you’re almost asking, ‘Should we pass legislation to solve immigration?’ You’re going to get a higher response than if you say, ‘We’re going to pass this law, but there are some potential adverse consequences, one of which is racial profiling.’”

The question reads: “The state of Arizona passed a law allowing police to ask people they’ve stopped to verify that they are in the country legally. Some people say the law is necessary because the federal government hasn’t done enough to stop illegal immigration, while others say the law could lead to racial profiling. Would you favor or oppose passing a similar law in Texas?”

The poll was a random sample of 1,443 Texas adults, including 1,072 registered voters, by telephone.

Thirty-eight percent said they oppose such a measure.  Another 8 percent said they were unsure and 1 percent refused to answer.

“They’re only targeting Hispanics,” Alfredo Lopez, a 68-year-old veteran from San Antonio, said.  “I would hate for a police officer to stop me and ask me if I’m an American citizen when I can turn around and tell him, ‘I think that I’m more American than you are. I’m the one that was out there dodging the bullets for 16-and-a-half months in the foxholes, in the jungles, everything,’” he said.

The difference in opinion by race and party were quite evident.  Seventy-eight percent of Republicans favored such a measure and 71 percent of Democrats said they opposed it.  A majority of white voters, two-thirds, supported a similar law and about three-quarters of Latino respondents opposed the idea.   Almost three-fifths of African American respondents also opposed such a measure.

Texas voters were also split on the issue of birthright citizenship.  Forty-five percent supported giving citizenship to those born here only if their parents are U.S. citizens, while 43 percent oppose such a change.

The poll was conducted Sept. 15-22 for the San Antonio Express-News, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Austin American-Statesman and Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Blum & Weprin Associates Inc. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent.

San Antonio Express News