The Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tougher immigration policies, has released its own poll on immigration attitudes. The Center claims that unlike other surveys, “this poll uses neutral language and avoids the false choice of conditional legalization vs. mass deportation.”

The poll of 1,443 likely voters generally finds that the public favors “enforcement first” policies. Perhaps the  most interesting finding is that is that even among Hispanics a majority (53 percent) said the government had done “too little” to enforce immigration laws. Only 24 percent said “too much” while 17 percent said the current enforcement level was “just right.”

Other notable poll findings were:

  • Of likely voters, 72 percent said they support reducing the illegal immigrant population by requiring employers to check workers’ legal status, fortifying the border, and getting the cooperation of local police. A total of 54 percent said they strongly support this approach.
  • There is also support for legalizing illegal immigrants with 61 percent of likely voters indicating they support giving illegal immigrants legal status if they pay a fine, study English, and undergo a background check. Twenty-nine percent said they “strongly support” this approach.
  • When we asked which of the two approaches they prefer, 58 percent of likely voters said they support reducing the illegal immigrant population through enforcement, while just 31 percent said they prefer legalization with the conditions listed above.
  • Supporting legalization is politically risky. Of likely voters, 56 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a member of Congress who supported legalization, while just 27 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a member who supports legalization — a 29 percentage-point spread.