New Poll of Likely Voters Shows Strong Preference for Immigration Enforcement Over Legalization of Illegal Aliens

Feb 14, 2013, 09:30 ET from FAIR

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new national poll of 1,000 likely voters finds widespread public opposition to legalizing millions of illegal aliens. The poll also finds overwhelming skepticism that promises of future immigration enforcement would be kept, or that the government could effectively carry out the legalization process without significant fraud. Voters also do not believe President Obama's claims that our borders are secure or that his administration is effectively enforcing immigration laws.


The poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) finds that only 36 percent of likely voters support "allowing illegal immigrants to legalize their status and remain here." By contrast, 52 percent support immigration enforcement as the best approach to dealing with illegal immigration, with 37 percent in favor of "encouraging illegal immigrants to return home by removing jobs and benefits," and an additional 15 percent who want current illegal immigrants deported.

"Unlike other recent polls which force respondents to choose between mass amnesty and mass deportation, the FAIR/Pulse Opinion poll offered voters a viable alternative," noted Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "The realistic alternative to the mass amnesty proposed by President Obama and many in Congress are policies that discourage illegal aliens from remaining here by removing incentives like jobs, or access to many public benefits and services. When presented with this realistic choice, American voters support enforcement over amnesty by a wide margin."

The FAIR/Pulse Opinion poll indicates that President Obama has a huge credibility gap when it comes to enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. Only 5 percent of voters are "very confident" that promises of future enforcement would be kept, and only 21 percent are even "somewhat confident." Nearly seven in ten voters express little or no confidence that enforcement promises would be fulfilled – 33 percent saying they are "not confident at all" and 36 percent who are "not very confident."

Voters also do not trust the government's ability to conduct meaningful background checks on millions of illegal aliens, or to screen out fraudulent applications for legalization by a 67 percent to 29 percent margin.

"The devil is in the details, and once the American people get a look at the details of the president's and the Senate's prescription for immigration reform, they are likely to reject a mass amnesty much as they did in 2007," Stein predicted. "Once all of the ideas are on the table and the American people really take a close look at the social and economic costs of a mass amnesty for illegal aliens, any support will quickly dissipate.

"What voters clearly do want is immigration reform that protects the interests of American workers and taxpayers and which requires illegal immigrants to comply with our laws, rather than reform that rewards the people who break our laws. As members of Congress attempt to tackle this issue, they need to be mindful of the fact that the American people will be paying attention," concluded Stein.

Among the key findings of the FAIR/Pulse Opinion poll:

  • By a 53% to 41% margin, voters believe our nation's borders are not secure.
  • By a 74% to 21% margin, voters believe the government is not doing an effective job preventing illegal aliens from living and working in the U.S.
  • By a 53% to 26% margin, voters believe that illegal immigration is harmful to American workers.
  • By a 66% to 11% margin, voters believe that illegal immigration imposes a burden on American taxpayers.

The full text of the questions and responses can be found at The nationwide poll was conducted on February 6 and has a margin of error of +/-3 percent.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.

Visit FAIR's website at