Californians positive about immigration
March 26, 2008
• Most say immigration helps the state
• Also positive about illegal immigrants
Californians are basically positive on immigration with a majority of state residents (59 percent) saying immigrants are a benefit to California because of their hard work and job skills, compared to 34 percent who say they are a burden because they use public services.
The results are from a survey this month by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
Belief that immigrants benefit the state has increased substantially over the past decade: In 1998, only 46 percent of Californians held this view.
"Conventional wisdom would predict that attitudes about immigrants would deteriorate as economic conditions worsen, but that hasn't happened recently," says PPIC president and CEO Mark Baldassare.
What about attitudes toward illegal immigrants? Here again, state residents take a positive view.
Two-thirds (66 percent) think illegal immigrants should be allowed to apply for work permits that would let them stay and work in the United States, about the same percentage as one year ago (64 percent).
Strong majorities of Democrats (73 percent), independents (62 percent), and likely voters (60 percent) believe that illegal immigrants should be allowed to apply for work permits, while Republicans are divided (48 percent should be allowed, 50 percent should not).
Taking it a step further, seven in 10 Californians (72 percent) think most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and apply for legal status; only one-quarter (25 percent) believe these immigrants should be deported.
This attitude is shared by majorities across all political parties (Democrats 80 percent, independents 72 percent, Republicans 52 percent) and among likely voters (65 percent) and is unchanged since December (72 percent).
The PPIC survey was funded by the James Irvine Foundation. Findings are based on a telephone survey of 2,002 California adult residents interviewed between March 11 and 18. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The sampling error for the total sample is +/- 2 percent and for the 1,077 likely voters is +/- 3 percent.
PPIC describes itself as “a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett.”