September 26, 2005
Immigration Emerges as Election Issue in U.S.

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Many adults in the United States believe immigration policies affect the way they vote, according to a poll by Rasmussen Reports. 69 per cent of respondents believe the issue is very or somewhat important in an election.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service estimates that more than 7 million illegal immigrants are currently living in the country. A recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center calculated the number of undocumented immigrants at 10.3 million. While California is home to most workers, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina have the greatest rates of increase.

In January 2004, U.S. president George W. Bush tabled his proposal for a major overhaul of the U.S. immigration system. The plan includes a "temporary worker program" that would grant legal status to undocumented workers, who would pay taxes, be required to return to their home country after three years, and receive no special preference if they decide to apply for permanent citizenship.

The U.S. Congress is currently studying two different proposals to deal with immigration. A bill sponsored by Republican Arizona senator John McCain and Democratic Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy seeks to grant legal status to virtually every undocumented migrant, and would create a guest-worker program.

Conversely, Republican Texas senator John Cornyn and Republican Arizona senator Jon Kyl have proposed a series of border enforcement measures, as well as the mandatory electronic verification of a worker’s eligibility. The plan also contemplates a guest-worker program.

American voters will renew the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate in November 2006.

Polling Data

In terms of impacting your vote, how important is the immigration issue?

Very important 38%

Somewhat important 31%

Not very important 20%

Not at all important 7%

Source: Rasmussen Reports
Methodology: Telephone interviews to 1,000 American adults, conducted on Sept. 20 and Sept. 21, 2005. Margin of error is 3 per cent.