LOS ANGELES (AP) — California voters broadly support a path to legalization for immigrants in the U.S. without proper documents, despite widespread worry about the effects of illegal immigration, a new poll shows.
Three in four of those surveyed support an overhaul of federal immigration laws, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows.
A majority of voters of all races, income levels and geography agreed that illegal immigration is a major problem, but there were significant differences over what to do about it, the Times reported Monday.
Beverly Bloom, a 59-year-old registered Democrat from Corona who works in physical education at a high school, said she doesn’t want to see punishment for the students and families she works with, many of them in the country illegally.
“I don’t want to hold it against these kids, because these kids are wonderful children,” Bloom told the Times. “Many of them have been here since they were infants, or their parents are undocumented, and I would hate to see these people sent back.”
Those polled showed a stark divide over unaccompanied minors who have been coming to the U.S. in big numbers from Central America this year. Nearly half said they should be allowed to stay in California to await legal proceedings, while a similar number says they should be deported.
David Bradford, 42, is in a minority among Republicans polled in thinking the children should be kept in the U.S. Some 71 percent think the children should be returned to their home countries.
Bradford said he fears the children would face deadly consequences back home. As a parent, he said, he can’t imagine sending his children through Mexico with a smuggler to get to the U.S.
“These parents must have been in a desperate, desperate situation,” Bradford said.
The overall divisions in the poll responses appear to reflect a pragmatism among voters who feel that something must be done but don’t want to create incentives to come across the border.
“Voters are compassionate to those here illegally — they recognize this is a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Dave Kanevsky of American Viewpoint, a Republican polling firm that helped conduct the bipartisan survey. “But what they don’t want to do is have solutions that let the problems continue and fester.”
The poll canvassed 1,507 registered California voters from Sept. 2 through 8 by telephone. The overall margin of error is 2.9 percentage points and higher for the subgroups within the poll.