The results of a poll of Texans conducted recently by the Dallas Morning News show that a majority favor a crackdown of some sort on illegal immigration, similar to what Arizona is trying to do. But the anti-immigration fervor in Texas doesn’t appear to be as strong as in some other states. Here are excerpts from this interesting article:
Texans appear fed up with illegal immigration, with most backing an Arizona-type crackdown and many willing to change the U.S. Constitution to discourage women from entering the country to give birth.
But some experts said that Texas, while roiled by the issue, still isn’t as captivated by it as other places – especially for a border state with a decidedly Republican tilt.
A statewide poll by The Dallas Morning News showed that 53 percent of registered voters say police should verify whether people they’ve stopped are in the country legally, even if it could lead to racial profiling. Thirty-eight percent oppose it.
Meanwhile, Texans were almost evenly divided on changing the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to those born in the U.S., with 45 percent favoring change and 43 percent opposing it, the poll found.
“If there’s a surprise, it’s that the margins are so narrow,” said Jerry Polinard, University of Texas-Pan American political science professor. “Overall, immigration has been on the agenda of the state for the past six or seven years, but it hasn’t lit the sparks that it has in some of the other states.”
Texans’ reluctance to change the Constitution mirrors national polls on the subject. But Texans are less enthusiastic than the nation at large about the Arizona law, which allowed law officers to ask people about their immigration status if officers suspect people are in the country illegally. The law largely is on hold while it is challenged in federal court.
Mark P. Jones, political science chairman at Rice University, said Texas voters might have peeled off because the poll raised the concern over racial profiling.
Also, Hispanic culture has long been a part of Texas history, he said.
“It’s hard to argue that there is an overwhelming feeling by Texans that we need that law,” Jones said.
Although some Republicans have vowed to push in next year’s Legislature for a similar law, GOP Gov. Rick Perry has been lukewarm, saying it’s not needed in Texas. His Democratic opponent, Bill White, has opposed it, saying it would distract police officers from protecting the public from crime.
The News’ poll showed clear breaks between Republicans (78 percent favoring it) and Democrats (71 percent opposing it), and Hispanics (76 percent opposing) and whites (68 percent favoring).
Both Jones and Polinard said the immigration conflict eventually would hurt Republicans by alienating Latino voters, who within 10 years will have a large sway in Texas elections.
“The Republicans, if they take this up, are looking over a cliff. Demography is destiny,” Polinard said.
“The Democrats fall on their knees every night and pray for immigration to be an issue because it’s viewed as anti-Latino and it will only help them,” he said.
Jones said efforts to pass a verification law would be a polarizing distraction, with no real legal benefit because the courts probably will overturn most of it. “It’s not a winning political issue,” he said.
The poll also looked at Texans’ views of showing a photo ID to vote, and the vast majority favor such a law.
Opponents believe that the ID requirement would force many who are poor, elderly or disabled – those most likely not to have a driver’s license – to be turned away from the polling places.