Poll finds illegal immigration concerns widespread
Six out of 10 Americans oppose efforts to make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens and an even larger majority oppose issuing them driver's licenses, according to a poll.

The Quinnipiac University poll, which comes at a time of heightened political debate over how to deal with an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, found that 88 percent of U.S. voters believe illegal immigration is a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem.

Among recent legal immigrants and their children, 83 percent said illegal immigration is either "very" or "somewhat" serious.

"This poll reflects local concerns about immigrants gathering on street corners, waiting for jobs, or packed into illegal housing and the like," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "If you're not here legally, you shouldn't get government benefits, Americans say overwhelmingly. They'd also deny driver's licenses to illegal immigrants."

Of all U.S. voters, 39 percent want current levels of legal immigration reduced, while 24 percent want it increased. A third of the voters want current levels to stay as they are.

The poll, released Friday, surveyed 1,892 registered voters nationwide between Feb. 21 and 28. The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

Other poll findings for U.S. voters include:

-- 62 percent oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens.

-- 72 percent oppose letting illegal immigrants get driver's licenses.

-- 84 percent want people to produce proof of legal residency to acquire government benefits.

-- 50 percent oppose eliminating automatic U.S. citizenship for the children born in the United States whose parents are illegal immigrants; 42 percent, however, would eliminate that benefit.
Posted by: lotp 2006-03-05