Americans Love the Arizona Immigration Law -- Why?

Big public policy polls are normally disappointing because they show the public is passionate -- negatively or positively -- about issues they don't seem to understand deeply. In health care reform, the details were much more popular than the three-word headliner issue. In financial regulation, the details are less popular (and much more confusing) than the two-word headliner issue. For both issues, public polling consistently suggested that Americans were more passionate than informed.

In the case of the Arizona immigration law, it seems that Americans do understand the ugly details of the law ... and they still support it. This could be the saddest case of all (via Wonk Room):

A new NYT/CBS poll shows that "the public broadly agrees that the Arizona law will result in racial profiling, overburden local and state law enforcement agencies, and decrease illegal immigrants' willingness to report crimes for fear of deportation." Nevertheless, a slim majority of Americans still supports it:
image6456951

Who knows whether polls provide an accurate snapshot of public opinion on issues as complex as the interplay between racial profiling, nationalization, security and all the other moral ingredients in immigration. But while one sympathizes with the Fallows position that the fault lies not in Arizona, but in the federal government's failure to address the issue at a national level, you have to wonder what kind of national consensus on naturalization we can reach if 60% of the public finds Arizona's new immigration law about right or too weak.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in National

Just In