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California voters heading to the polls with immigration fresh on their minds

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Many Californians are deeply concerned about the consequences stemming from ineffective federal immigration enforcement.  This conclusion can be drawn from measuring recent sentiment of how Californians view federal responsibility in dealing with illegal immigration and the crimes associated with it. 

According to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted last week, 52 percent of California’s likely electorate believe that the federal government actually encourages illegal immigration into the United States.  25 percent disagree, while 23 percent are unsure whether the policies encourage the practice.  The findings come even as the Obama administration has increased its deportations of illegal immigrants.

The poll results are also enlightening because they shed light on the fact that even a liberal-leaning state like California is looking for a solution to the matter.  According to California’s likely voters in the poll, the level of government responsible for enforcing illegal immigration is still up in the air for them. Voters are just about split on the matter. 46 percent believe states should enforce immigration law, while 47 percent say that the federal government should enforce immigration law.  

Regarding voter attitudes related to illegal immigration, a recent study conducted by the University of California Berkeley shows how illegal immigration has become a more significant conversation leading up to the midterm elections across the country.  Between March and May, the percentage of Californians who said that illegal immigration was the foremost issue more than doubled, jumping from 3 percent to 9 percent in those months.  Arizona's controversial immigration law and its associated partisan-fueled debate likely played a major role in raising the status of this issue at the time. 

The same Berkeley study attempts to make the case through its gathered data that while immigration is on the rise in California, crime rates reported to the police have actually dropped during the years of 1991-2008.  The study does, however, make a clarification.   “Despite a powerful and consistent trend showing declining serious crime rates during a period when foreign-born immigration was increasing, this report does not posit a correlation between an increase in new immigration and a decline in crime,” it stated.  The study goes on to say that there are other factors that play into California’s declining crime rate. 

With this in mind, the concerns that Californians have about illegal immigration are not out the window. Being citizens who hold their elected leaders accountable, voters should continue to press the Obama administration to faithfully apply the federal immigration law without playing politics.  If the Obama administration said they would come up with an effective immigration plan, then California’s voters are to speak through their representatives to ensure that the legislation will prove an effective remedy.

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