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Monday, May 17, 2010

Gallup Survey Presents Surprising Findings on Immigration Perceptions

Gallup Survey Presents Surprising Findings on Immigration Perceptions: "
Last week Gallup released a poll that evaluated which concerns Americans find most pressing. While typical worries, such as the economy, unemployment, healthcare and politics made the Top 5 of the list, so did immigration (both legal and otherwise).

That 10 percent of those surveyed cited immigration as one of the major problems facing America stood out to Gallup, considering that it's been two years since mention of immigration as the nation's top problem reached double digits. So what's behind this trend?

Without a doubt, the state of Arizona's new policy to crack down on illegal immigration factored into the responses, considering that the survey was conducted May 3-6. Gallup found that those from all over the country and across the political spectrum cited immigration as the nation's top problem, but those from residents of Western states were especially concerned about the issue. Gallup conducts surveys about America's most pressing issues each month, and from April 2010 to May 2010, the percentage of respondents in the West worried about immigration jumped from 2% to 16%.

These figures lead me to question what the real issue is here--immigration or perceptions about immigration presented in the media. If immigration is really contributing to more Americans being out of work or Americans paying higher taxes and more for community services generally, as immigration opponents claim, wouldn't concerns about immigration be consistent? Could the issue go from being a non-factor on the Gallup survey from one month to making the Top 5 the next? I suspect that media coverage about immigration and the fact that immigrants, due to their underprivileged status both racially and economically, make them easy targets during tough times.

If we're to look at Arizona's immigration policy with critical eyes, it's imperative that we truly analyze how much of a problem immigration (legal and otherwise) has posed to us and our communities. Are those who support crackdowns on undocumented immigrations just having a knee-jerk reaction to a hot-button issue with little self-reflection but lots of influence from the media?

(Via About Race Relations.)

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