Two-thirds of Michigan voters support an Arizona-style immigration law for the Great Lakes State, while the “tea party” movement enjoys more support than opposition, a poll shows.
An EPIC-MRA survey of 600 likely voters released to the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV shows nearly three in four state voters like the controversial Arizona law that would require police to ask people they stop or arrest for proof they are in the United States legally if police suspect they might not be. Two-thirds say Michigan should have such a law.
State Rep. Kim Meltzer, R-Macomb Township, who has sponsored legislation in Lansing similar to the controversial Arizona statute, said she’s not surprised because people are fed up. “Some would say we don’t have to deal with it at all,” she said. “We need accountability on this issue.”
Signed into law in April, the Arizona statute made it a state crime to be in the United States illegally and required police, when practicable, to inquire during a stop or arrest about a person’s legal status if the officer had a reasonable suspicion that person was in the country illegally.
The number of illegal immigrants living in the state dropped in recent years — from 120,000 in 2006 to 110,000 in 2008, far fewer than the 2.7 million in California or 500,000 in Arizona, according to 2008 statistics from the Pew Hispanic Center.
But that was no bar to support for the Arizona law, with 67 percent of people in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties and 75 percent of people in the rest of the state favoring the Arizona law. It enjoyed strong support among every age group, and union households favored it, 69 percent to 24 percent.
Nationally, a CBS News poll conducted Aug. 20 through Tuesday showed 63 percent of people believing the Arizona law either did not go far enough or was about right in dealing with illegal immigration.
Frederick Feliciano, a Detroit businessman and member of the state’s Commission on Spanish-Speaking Affairs, said anger over the lingering bad economy is what’s driving the support, even though immigrants — illegal or not — are not to blame. “It’s all correlated to the perception that jobs are tied to immigration,” he said. “Immigrants don’t come to take your or my job.”
State Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, who has sponsored legislation like the Arizona law but said bills have been bottled up by Democratic leaders, disagreed, saying contractors get rich paying illegal immigrants less. Meanwhile, he said, illegal immigrants are a strain on social services, health care and schools. “It’s a drag on society,” he said. “Yes, we do have an illegal-immigration problem.”