Fox News Poll: States Should Have Right To Make Immigration Laws

Amid the ongoing controversy over Arizona's new immigration law, voters by a 2-to-1 margin think individual states should have the right to make their own immigration laws. And a majority of voters would like their own state to follow Arizona's lead.

A Fox News poll finds 65 percent of American voters think states should have right to make their own immigration laws and protect their borders "if they believe the federal government has failed to act," while 32 percent disagree. Moreover, a 52 percent majority favors their own state passing a bill similar to Arizona’s new immigration law. Some 31 percent would oppose it and another 18 percent is unsure.

Those living in the Midwest (56 percent) and the South (54 percent) are more likely to favor a law like Arizona's in their state than those in the West (49 percent) or the Northeast (45 percent).

The key provisions of Arizona's immigration law receive significant support. Over two-thirds (65 percent) favor allowing local authorities to question anyone who they think may be in the country illegally, while 76 percent favor allowing local officials to detain anyone who cannot prove their immigration status.

Fully 84 percent favor requiring people to show documents proving their immigration status, if officials have reasonable cause to ask for them.

Click here to read the poll

Democrats split over states having the right to make their own immigration laws: 45 percent say they do and 50 percent disagree. Even though a majority of Democrats favor the individual elements of the Arizona law, by a 17 percentage point margin they are more likely to oppose passing a similar law in their state.

Large majorities of Republicans favor the law's basics, and nearly three-quarters favor (73 percent) having an immigration law like Arizona's in their state. Independents favor the law's provisions and over half would support it in their state.

Arizona's new law goes into effect at the end of July. Some groups and businesses that disagree with the law have announced they are boycotting trips and business with the state. Over two-thirds of voters -- 66 percent -- oppose the boycotts.

President Obama said at a press conference Wednesday with Mexican President Calderon that the United States needs to fix its "broken immigration system" and he supports "comprehensive immigration reform."

Only about a third of voters -- 34 percent -- think the country’s immigration laws need to be overhauled completely. Sixty-one percent think instead the country needs to enforce the existing immigration laws.

Varying majorities of Democrats (51 percent), Republicans (73 percent) and independents (61 percent) think enforcing the country's current immigration laws is the right course of action.

The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from May 18 to May 19. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

On immigration in general, more people think immigrants help make the country a better place to live (41 percent) than think they hurt the country (31 percent). Another 25 percent say it depends.

Thirty-one percent think the country should increase the number of legal immigrants allowed to move to the United States, 43 percent think that number should decrease and 17 percent would keep it at its current level.

There's much more agreement on the issue of border security. Most people -- 76 percent -- think the current level of security at the country’s borders is not strict enough. Eighteen percent say it's about right and hardly any -- 2 percent -- say "too strict."

Shocking News

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder -- who publicly questioned the constitutionality of the Arizona immigration law -- recently admitted in Congressional testimony that he hadn't read the law.

A large 83 percent majority of Americans voters thinks it is "shocking" for the attorney general -- the country’s chief law enforcement official -- to question a law he hasn't read. For 12 percent, it's not a big deal.

Overall views of Holder are mixed: 36 percent of voters approve and 27 percent disapprove of the job he is doing as attorney general. Nearly 4 in 10 are unable to rate him (37 percent).

Click here to see the raw data