May 14th, 2010
02:18 PM ET

Arizona under fire? Hardly

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/14/art.arizona.protests.jpg caption="Amidst the furor against Arizona's immigration law, polls show the majority of Americans don’t think there is anything wrong with police asking some questions if it seems like someone is here illegally."]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

If you have followed the growing furor over the new Arizona immigration law, it would be easy to assume that public anger runs as deeply against this legislation as the Grand Canyon State’s most prominent geologic feature. (I mean, of course, other than John McCain’s shuffleboard court.)

After all, Californians are howling. Professional basketball and baseball players are threatening to quit playing and run home or something like that. Heck, even the makers of Arizona Ice Tea are pointing out that they are located in New York. So I repeat, you may well think public sentiment is dead against the good voters of Arizona.

But you would be wrong. Poll after poll has found most Americans think the Arizonans have a good idea. Not perfect, to be sure. But good. I’m not talking about a bunch of fly-by-night push polls. I’m talking about Gallup, New York Times/CBS, and Pew among others; heavy hitters with solid reputations. And they are finding that the majority of Americans don’t think there is anything wrong with police asking some questions if it seems like someone is here illegally.

As you might expect, the polls show Republican voters most in favor of this law. But Independents also support it, albeit by a narrower margin. And Democrats? A majority of them oppose the law, but one-out-of-three is okay with it.

Opponents of this measure don’t like hearing those numbers. They like numbers like this: 90 million. That’s how many dollars the mayor of Phoenix says boycotts could cost his metro area over the next five years in lost conventions and tourism.

Maybe so. But boycotts are notoriously unpredictable. Everyone who ever starts one predicts it will cause the fall of the Roman Empire, and that is rarely the case. Uh, except in Rome about 1500 years ago, and that was not so much a boycott as a general strike.

Those who are complaining about the Arizona law are passionate, and they may have some solid legal arguments, vis-à-vis, constitutionality. But make no mistake, they are in the minority. Americans in growing numbers are telling Washington, D.C. it is time for a serious debate and some hard decisions need to be made about our immigration policy. And far from damning Arizona for jumping the gun, they are applauding.

Filed under: Arizona • Immigration • Tom Foreman
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