5/03/05 FOX Poll: Illegal Immigration Seen as Serious Problem For U.S.

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An overwhelming majority of Americans think illegal immigration (search) is a very or somewhat serious problem for the country today, and over two-thirds favor using the United States military to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country, according to the latest FOX News Poll. Almost equal numbers say their concern about illegal immigration is based on homeland security and terrorism as say their concern is about jobs and the economy.

The poll finds 91 percent think the illegal or undocumented immigration situation in the United States today is a "very" serious (63 percent) or "somewhat" serious (28 percent) problem. Only 5 percent think the problem is "not very" serious and 2 percent "not at all" serious.

Of those identifying illegal immigration as a serious problem, the basis for that belief is evenly split between concern about homeland security and terrorism (31 percent) and concern about jobs and the economy (31 percent), with the remaining one third giving the unprompted response "both" the economy and terrorism.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on April 25-26.

The new poll shows that 67 percent of Americans favor putting military forces on the borders to stop illegal immigration — down from 79 percent three years ago, when 9/11 and talk of terrorists illegally entering the country were more top of mind issues (June 2002).

"The drop in support for using the military on the borders may also be due to the growing perception that the military is somewhat overextended," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Virtually every office, factory, and store in the country has had someone serving a long Reserve tour and the perception of strain is clearly out there. Nevertheless, we can’t lose sight of the fact that a huge majority wants action."

It should be no surprise that Republicans, who are traditionally more likely to be viewed as "hawks," are more likely than Democrats and independents to favor using the military to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country (75 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents). What is somewhat surprising is that women, a group traditionally less supportive of using the military, are as likely as men to favor using troops for this purpose (67 percent of both women and men favor).

Opinion is divided on eliminating public assistance, such as education and health benefits, to illegal immigrants and their children. Forty-three percent of Americans favor stopping public assistance for illegal immigrants, while 45 percent oppose it.

Even so, a 62 percent majority, including almost equal majorities of Democrats (65 percent) and Republicans (62 percent), favors allowing illegal immigrants who have jobs in the United States to apply for legal, temporary worker status.

• PDF: Click here for full poll results.