A recent poll shows that Utahns overwhelmingly support the immigration plan now being debated by the US Senate. But polling experts say the findings should be taken with a grain of salt, since the poll was commissioned by immigration reform advocates.
The poll found that more than 70% of Utahns support the immigration reform bill, which was described in the questions as a bipartisan plan that would secure borders and block employers from hiring undocumented immigrants. It was conducted by Harper Polling, and sponsored by the Alliance for Citizenship, Partnership for a New American Economy, and Republicans for Immigration Reform. Quin Monson is Director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University. He says the poll is not actually designed to understand what the public thinks about immigration reform.
“What they’re doing here is measuring opinion in a way that’s meant to advocate for their position, instead of measuring opinion in a way that’s meant to understand the dimensions of public opinion around this issue,” Monson says. “I think the bottom line is we should take the findings with a grain of salt, knowing that the purpose was to show support for a particular piece of legislation.”
The poll was conducted in 29 states around the country, generally showing broad support for the legislation.
“If you compared the list of 29 states where the polling was done with the roster of United States senators, you might find some patterns in terms of where there are states with people on the fence on this bill, or where the proponents of the legislation see a US Senator that might need some opinion data to point to… to justify being able to support the bill,” Monson says.
While Senator Orrin Hatch has supported the legislation in committee, he has been saying he wants to ensure immigrants pay back taxes as a condition of his continued support. Senator Mike Lee opposes the bill.