BREAKING: New Brown Poll Shows Majority of RI Support Arizona Style Immigration Law

Monday, March 07, 2011


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According to a new poll from Brown University, 54 percent of Rhode Islanders support the enactment of a law similar to the one passed in Arizona last year. The Arizona law required local police to enforce federal immigration laws and arrest anyone who is present in the country without proper documentation. Support for Arizona-type measures is strong among Republicans (76 percent favor) but less so among Democrats (44 percent).

Rhode Islanders are equally split on the effectiveness of such a law with 42 percent saying it will force undocumented immigrants out of the state and an equal proportion, 41 percent, believing it will not do so.

Other key findings from the Poll:

* Most Rhode Islanders believe there are drawbacks to Arizona-style laws: Despite the support for Arizona-style measures, large majorities recognize the drawbacks of such legislation: 72 percent say it will discourage immigrants from reporting crimes, 71 percent believe that incidents of racial profiling will increase, and 69 percent expect that legal residents and citizens will be stopped and questioned by the police. Furthermore, 44 percent anticipate high economic costs related to the implementation of such a measure.

* Half of Rhode Islanders approve immigration enforcement by state and local police: Half of Rhode Islanders, 55 percent, believe that police should be able to check the citizenship and immigration status of all people, including citizens. More than one-third, 38 percent, disagree with the idea of involving police in immigration enforcement.

* The majority of Rhode Islanders see no difference between immigrants and American citizens in terms of social values: More than half of the state’s residents, 59 percent, believe that today’s immigrants have the same values as American citizens. Nearly three-fourths, 72 percent, of Democrats compared to 55 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents believe that the values of immigrants and Americans are the same.

* State residents are neutral on immigrants, preferring to see them neither as a strength nor as a weakness: Almost two-thirds of Rhode Islanders (62 percent) say that immigrants are not a burden on state resources. At the same time, 80 percent think that immigrants do not strengthen the state either.

* Immigrants should change to blend in: Seven of 10 Rhode Islanders believe that immigrants should change so they blend more into American society, and it is immigrants themselves who believe in the importance of assimilation more so than U.S.-born Rhode Islanders: 78 percent of foreign-born Rhode Islanders say immigrants should change to blend in, while only 69 percent of U.S.-born citizens express the same view.

* Not everyone has to speak English: Only 34 percent of the state’s residents think that it is very important for everyone in the country to speak English. Democrats (53 percent) more so than Republicans (36 percent) object to requiring that everyone speak English.

* Rhode Islanders show strong consensus on issues of immigrant education: 83 percent support programs for teaching immigrant children English, and 68 percent support extending in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrant children who graduate from Rhode Island high schools.


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