Non-Latino Arizonans Support Birthright Citizenship and Immigrant Kids, New Poll States

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Non-Latino Arizonans have a soft spot for immigrant kids, if a new poll commissioned by a children's advocacy organization can be believed.

According to a telephone survey of voters in six states paid for by the non-profit group First Focus, a majority of non-Latino Arizonans support birthright citizenship and have a generally positive view of immigrant children.

The poll, conducted by the DC-firm Lake Research Partners, found that 63 percent of Arizonans held favorable or somewhat favorable views of immigrant kids, while 12 percent were on the haterade when it came to migrant tykes, with an unfavorable view of such kiddies. 

Similarly, the poll claims that 61 percent of the mostly-Anglo Arizona respondents believe that children of undocumented immigrants "should have the same rights as U.S.-citizen-born children," and that 66 percent of Arizonans polled support public benefits for all children.

Depending on how the question is asked, according to First Focus, more than 60 percent of Arizonans polled support the concept of birthright citizenship as enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The relevant part of the 14th Amendment states:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Federal courts long have held, and it is the law of the land today, that if a child is born on U.S. soil, he or she is by birthright a U.S. citizen, though nativists refuse to accept this dogged reality.

Which helps explain why about 20 percent of respondents in Arizona are opposed to birthright citizenship, according to First Focus. 

Additionally, despite Republican presidential contender Donald Trump's recent win on the GOP side in Arizona's presidential preference election, First Focus found that 55 percent of respondents in Arizona viewed Trump's immigration policies in an unfavorable light, with 30 percent in favor, border wall and all.

The poll results are counterintuitive given Arizona's history of anti-immigrant legislation and its abundance of bigoted politicians, such as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

First Focus spokesman Gabriel Vasquez seemed to agree.

"I was surprised myself," Vasquez tells New Times. "I would have thought Arizona's numbers would have been a little lower, given that it was a non-Latino poll sample."

But Vasquez says his organization knows from focus groups that, as might be expected, people are more accepting of immigrant children than immigrant adults. 

"Voters tend to be a lot more sympathetic toward immigrant children," Vasquez says. "In large part because they think that if [immigrant children] are here at such a young age, they're not at fault for the decisions that their parents made."

On the issue of birthright citizenship, Vasquez claimed that Republicans tended to support it, though for different reasons than their Democratic counterparts. 

"For Republicans who support birthright citizenship, it's more of a constitutionalist angle," he says. "There are folks who believe that the constitution should not be rewritten, and the 14th Amendment is what it is."

One problem with the poll is its small sample size. Only 600 people were surveyed — 100 in each of the states polled, which include Arizona, Ohio, Missouri, New York, Minnesota, and New Mexico. 

Vasquez admitted that he wished the sample size had been larger, but he argued that the results of First Focus' poll questions, in most cases, were consistent across state lines, which he believes proves their accuracy.

Another issue: the survey took place before the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium

For instance, in all six states, voters' priorities were found to be on the economy first and education second, with terrorism coming in third, and immigration a distant seventh. 

If the poll had been done after the attacks, obviously those results may have been different.

Why did the poll target non-Latinos? 

Vasquez admits that First Focus is looking to sway hearts and minds in Arizona and elsewhere, and wants to illustrate a "disconnect" it sees between what politicians and media express on immigration versus what people actually think.

"Part of the reason we polled in Arizona is that we're going to put out a couple of Public Service Announcements in the state, advocating for the rights of immigrant children," he says.

"We wanted to see what folks' views were in these select states before we launched our PSAs...That's why we surveyed folks we thought were persuadable on this issue."

Vasquez says the PSA campaign is funded half by Republicans and half by Democrats and should begin airing in mid-May.

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