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Mixed Message from Recent Pew Poll
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June 29, 2007, 10:15 PM
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Pew Research Recently published a poll that included several questions on immigration:

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted May 30-June 3 among 1,503 adults, finds a growing majority of Americans saying increased employer sanctions, as opposed to more border fences and patrols, can best reduce illegal immigration from Mexico. A 55% majority sees increased penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants as the most effective way to stem cross-border immigration, up from 49% a year ago.

One interesting question this raises: how does the public feel about the $250 Billion in uncollected employer fines? Does the public want an amnesty of illegal employers-and if not, how does the public want these revenues used? How high does the public thing these employer fines really ought to be? I`ve previously estimated that they would need to be much higher than existing fines to be effective-but just enforcing the current $25,000 Maximum fine per violation would have an immediate and dramatic effect.

Less encouraging for VDARE.com readers was this item:

Overall, 63% of the public - and nearly identical numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents - favor such an approach if illegal immigrants "pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs.

Years ago, I briefly worked for Andrew Greeley at the National Opinion Research Center. One of the things I learned from that experience is that whoever controls the questions controls the answers. In the Pew Poll, the idea of an amnesty gets less support than granting citizenship to illegal immigrants that pay a fine and pass a background check. One major feature that was omitted is how large that fine ought to be-and how it would be connected to the length of time in the US. Other polls have shown that most US citizens wouldn`t trade their citizenship for a Million dollars.

I suspect that if the US were to offer even a small buyout option to illegal immigrants—say $15,000 of the $25,000 collected from employer fines to those illegal immigrants that testify against their employers and return home, that many if not most illegal immigrants would leave voluntarily in an orderly fashion. That buyout option could be paid out gradually upon demonstration that they had in fact returned home and stayed there(say via biometric ATM machines located in Mexico and controlled by US authorities). What remains to be seen is how the public feels about using the revenues from employer sanctions for that purpose.

By contrast, those who are under age 30 overwhelmingly support both alternatives.

This tells me that immigration restriction advocates have a real education job to do among American youth—who are in fact among the most directly impacted by immigration. I would suggest we need education materials aimed at folks in high school or grade school on immigration. One problem is that the public school system is largely oriented toward indoctrinating a pro-immigration position. Teachers and administrators are largely charged with making the present situation work—and immigration is a major factor in justifying higher levels of educational budgets in many jurisdictions.