21 Jun 2017
Austin, TX

Nearly three out of five Texas voters believe local law enforcement officials should be required to cooperate with immigration authorities according to a new poll. The survey also finds that voters believe local police should have the right to ask about immigration status.

A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune (UT/TT) poll shows strong support for Texas’ new anti-sanctuary city bill recently signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. The poll finds that 58 percent of Texas voters either strongly support or somewhat support a requirement for local law enforcement officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Only one-third of Texas voters indicated they were against the idea. When comparing “strongly support” to “strongly oppose,” the numbers are even more lopsided (42-21).

Despite this, Senate Bill 4 is being harshly contested by supporters of illegal immigrants. The bill prohibits law enforcement officials from establishing a policy prohibiting cooperation with immigration officials. It also makes refusing to honor an immigration detainer a misdemeanor criminal offense and creates civil fines and penalties for jurisdictions with sanctuary policies.

The poll also indicates voters believe strongly that police officers should have the right to inquire about immigration status during a legal detainment, including a traffic stop. Fifty-three percent of Texas voters support the idea while 42 percent oppose the matter. SB4 prohibits a department from having a policy that prohibits an officer from asking about the immigration status of someone they have lawfully detained. However, it also prohibits an officer from asking about the immigration status of a crime victim, or a witness to a crime, unless the immigration status is pertinent to the crime, as in human smuggling.

The Texas Tribune broke the numbers down further. On the issue of requiring cooperation with immigration authorities, 85 percent of Republican voters support the idea while only 27 percent of Democrats are supportive.

Racially, Whites and Blacks support the issue. White voters indicated their approval by a 67 to 26 margin while black voters supported the measure by a 47 to 37 percent margin. Hispanic voters opposed the issue, but only slightly. Nearly 40 percent of Hispanics support the required cooperation while just under half oppose it (39 to 48 percent).

Voters predominantly felt strong opposition or support for the idea. Not very many voters selected “somewhat in support” or “somewhat against.”

The provision stating that police officers should be able to inquire about the immigration status of someone they have detained or arrested drew harsher party-line support and opposition. Three-fourths of Texas Democrats oppose the idea while 86 percent of Republicans support the matter. Ethnically, Hispanic and black voters oppose the matter (59 and 57 percent respectively) while 64 percent of white voters support the issue.

On a list of priorities for Texas voters, immigration tied for third place (eight percent) with health care and the economy. Political corruption/leadership ranked first at 17 percent while National Security/Terrorism ranked second at 10 percent.

The UT/TT poll conducted an internet-based survey of 1,200 registered Texas voters from June 2 through 11. The poll claims a +/- margin of error of 2.83 percentage points.