I-Team: Both Sides React to Immigration Poll - 8 News NOW

Investigative Reporter Jonathan Humbert and Photojournalist Alex Brauer

I-Team: Both Sides React to Immigration Poll

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LAS VEGAS -- According to the latest 8 News NOW, Las Vegas Review-Journal poll, Nevadans want a hard-line stance on immigration. A majority of Nevadans want major immigration reform and they believe our economy would be better off without illegal immigrants.

Opinion polls can capture the public's impressions, but in the immigration debate, passionate opinion and the facts aren't always on the same side.

The scenes of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement continue to make headlines. Companies pushing the limits of the law with workers desperate for a paycheck, no matter how low. And Nevadans say images like these bring the state down.

Eighty-nine-percent of those polled say there should be tougher penalties on the companies who hire undocumented workers. Nearly half polled think the economy would be better off if the workers were rooted out.

"A lot of people have been misinformed and this usually happens when the economy is down," said immigration attorney Reza Athari.

Athari says the poll reveals an angry, dark interpretation of the law. He says a wholesale removal of workers in industries across the city would be devastating.

"If we reduce the numbers of the people and the economy will go down even more," he said.

The third of people polled say illegal immigrants are filling in for jobs most Americans won't do, but a majority say they are taking jobs away from people. That's a sentiment echoed by Ira Mehlman of the Federation for Immigration Reform.

"It is having a real impact on the daily lives of people of Nevada, particularly in the area of jobs," he said.

But the results of the poll may not match up with the truth. Non-partisan factcheck.org compared multiple studies and found even though all sides are breaking the law, these workers actually contribute to economic growth. A job is a job and pay means spending. Belief has trumped fact.

The final question of the poll dealt with the hot topic of birthright citizenship. Fifty-seven-percent support changing the constitution so that children of illegal immigrants would not become citizens. Athari was appalled. "That's one of the fundamentals of the Constitution in this country," he said.

Mehlman takes a hard line. "These kids would not be born here, they would not be consuming services here, if not for the fact their parents are in the country illegally. So there is a legitimate cost associated with illegal immigration," he said.

It would take a major political movement and Constitutional amendment to change birthright citizenship. Pundits say it is being pushed harder this year because it is an election year.

Which of the following comes closest to your view:

  1. Immigrants in the United States without legal status are taking jobs away from Nevada citizens.
  2. Immigrants in the United States without legal status are primarily filling low wage jobs that most Nevada citizens would not consider taking.
  3. Not sure
  State Men Women Dem Rep Ind Hispanic Non-Hispanic
Take Jobs 54% 59% 49% 43% 66% 52% 28% 59%
Fill Jobs 31% 25% 37% 45% 15% 34% 61% 26%
Not Sure 15% 16% 14% 12% 19% 14% 11% 15%

Would you support or oppose placing tougher penalties on employers who hire workers that are no in the country legally?

  State Men Women Dem Rep Ind Hispanic Non-Hispanic
Support 89% 90% 88% 86% 90% 92% 85% 90%
Oppose 9% 9% 9% 13% 8% 7% 13% 8%
Undecided 2% 1% 3% 1% 2% 1% 2% 2%

Overall, do you think Nevada's economy would be better, worse or about the same if those who are not here legally were removed from the workforce?

  State Men Women Dem Rep Ind Hispanic Non-Hispanic
Better 46% 51% 42% 37% 57% 41% 13% 52%
Worse 13% 11% 15% 21% 7% 7% 17% 12%
Same 31% 30% 31% 31% 28% 40% 63% 25%
Not Sure 10% 8% 12% 11% 8% 12% 7% 11%

Would you support or oppose amending the U.S. Constitution in order to deny automatic citizenship to children born in the country whose parents are here without legal status?

  State Men Women Dem Rep Ind Hispanic Non-Hispanic
Support 57% 63% 51% 39% 71% 71% 45% 59%
Oppose 29% 25% 33% 49% 13% 17% 40% 27%
Undecided 14% 12% 16% 12% 16% 12% 15% 14%
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