WASHINGTON – The media spotlight is intensely concentrated on a contentious immigration reform plan, covering every step of the debate in Congress. Yet surprising, the majority of Americans say they still feel uniformed about the broad bipartisan immigration bill and thus cannot form an opinion on the legislation affecting 12 million people in the United States.
Nearly 60 percent of Americans said they did not know enough to favor or oppose the immigration bill before the Senate, according to a new Gallup Poll. The finding suggests that despite strong opinions and emotions by some groups reported in the media, most Americans are still left confused about what the immigration bill supports and how it will affect them.
However, participants who said they follow news on the immigration bill “very closely” or “somewhat closely” are mostly opposed to the bill. And among those who do know enough about the bill to have an opinion, opponents outnumbered those in favor by a three-to-one margin.
Moreover, the majority of opponents to the bill feel strongly about their views, compared to a minority of those who favor the bill strongly. More specifically, Americans who pay very close attention to the bill showed high levels of opposition (61 percent) to the legislation.
The ratio of opposition to support progressively decreased as Americans paid less attention to news on the bill.
Interestingly, about one in five of those who say they are following the bill very closely still say they don’t know enough to have an opinion. The figure increases to almost nine out of ten for those who say they are not paying close attention to the bill.
Some of the top reasons given for opposition to the bill is that it provides amnesty to illegal immigrants, that it should have stiffer penalties, and that the new laws won’t work.
On the other hand, those who support the bill do so because, among other reasons, they agree with the requirements for immigrants to become citizens and the bill would limit who can come into the country. Others feel the immigration problem needs to be addressed and the bill may be the best solution available.
The comprehensive immigration reform bill was drafted by White House negotiators and a bipartisan group of senators. Basically, the comprehensive reform bill would legalize about 12 million illegal immigrants, tighten border security, and impose stricter rules banning employers from hiring illegal workers.
It is currently being debated in Congress and is set to face a critical test on Thursday. Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has scheduled a cloture vote on limiting time for debate in an effort to force the bill through the Senate this week. The act could prove fatal to the bill because Reid vows he will remove the bill if it fails to receive the needed 60 votes.
The Gallup Poll on how Americans feel about the immigration bill was conducted June 1-3, 2007, based on telephone interviews with 1,007 national adults aged 18 and older.