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Timespolls Case

Essay by   •  August 31, 2011  •  Essay  •  408 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,287 Views

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"Taking a pragmatic view on a divisive issue, a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status and to create a new guest worker program to meet future labor demand, the poll found."

The NYTimes/CBS poll referred to by its reporters does have questions that solicited considerable approval for guest worker programs and legal status. Since these are the two objectives that the Times itself has stridently advocated (in its editorials and its coverage), there is good reason to be suspicious of the poll. Another reason is that there is and has been such strong opposition to legal immigration (and adamant opposition to illegal immigration). The poll quite oddly left out the standard question asked by most polls since 1965 asking whether legal immigration ought to be maintained at the present level, increased, or decreased. Since 2002, about 50% of the American people have wanted it decreased and about 30% want it maintained. In 2006, 60% of the American people opposed amnesty, a very consistent finding. Since guest worker programs and citizenship would greatly increase immigration, and since this is amnesty with a fine, there is a clear dissonance.

So the evidence points to the wording of the question. Not only did the Times leave out the basic questions on levels and amnesty, but it worded the question in a tendentious way and offered only two choices. First, it said that illegal immigrants could apply for legalization, not be granted it (so, in another question not reported, 75% of those in favor said the illegals would have to wait until legal applicants were considered).

Second, the only alternative was to deport them. There is general opposition (about 60%) to deportation, but there is very large support for employer sanctions, border walls and other devices that would reduce attractions. The Times allowed only two choices. Other polls in 2007 that have asked questions about guest worker programs have not elicited nearly this much support, primarily because they gave a broader range of alternatives.

My conclusion? The poll was designed to produce the largest amount of support possible for the NY Times position. The true support for this position is closer to 30%. Most Americans would accept a guest worker/citizenship program with the possibility of citizenship rather than deporting illegal immigrants, but they would be happier with punitive actions that reduced the appeal.

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