A poll published Sunday in five major Texas newspapers shows that more than half of the registered voters surveyed support legislation similar to a new Arizona law that cracks down on illegal immigrants.
According to the poll, 53 percent of 1,072 registered Texas voters said they supported passage of such legislation in Texas. That number is less than in previous polls.
Pollster Mickey Blum said the addition of the question of possible "racial profiling" as a consequence of such legislation might be the reason for the decrease. But, Blum said, "even having said those words -- 'racial profiling' -- in the question, you've got majority support for that type of law."
Thirty-eight percent were opposed to such legislation, while eight percent were uncertain and one percent refused to answer.
Also, the poll showed Texas voters almost evenly divided on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish automatic U.S. citizenship for all children born in the United States, even those whose parents were in the country illegally. Forty-five percent said they supported such an amendment, while 43 percent opposed it and 11 percent were uncertain and two percent refused to answer.
Blum & Weprin Associates Inc. of New York conducted the poll for the Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, the San Antonio Express-News, the Austin American-Statesman and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The results were appearing in their Sunday newspapers.
The telephone survey of a random sample of 1,443 Texas adults, including 1,072 registered voters and 629 likely voters, was conducted Sept. 15-22. The margin of error for the likely voters is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
The poll said that of those voters responding to the survey, 78 percent who described themselves as Republicans said they supported the Arizona-style bill, while 71 percent who described themselves as Democrats opposed it.
About two-thirds of the white respondents supported such legislation, even if it involved racial profiling, while about 75 percent of the Hispanic respondents and 60 percent of the black respondents opposed it.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry has said such legislation would be inappropriate for Texas, but some Republican lawmakers have already introduced similar bills for the legislative session convening in January.
The newspapers interviewed some of the poll respondents.
Janet Kiekar, 55, of Missouri City, who said she lost her accounting job in the past year, supported Arizona-style legislation. She said the government must tighten immigration enforcement.
"Not that I think a whole lot of illegal immigrants are taking away my accounting job, but they are taking somebody's job," she said.
Alfredo Lopez, 68, a San Antonio military veteran, opposed such legislation.
"I would hate for a police officer to stop me and ask me if I'm an American citizen when I can turn around and tell him, 'I think that I'm more American than you are. I'm the one that was out there dodging the bullets for 16½ months in the foxholes, in the jungles, everything,"' he said.
When it came to a possible constitutional amendment to abolish automatic native-born citizenship, Walter Livingston of Burleson said he dislikes exploitation of so-called "birthright citizenship" by illegal immigrant parents.
"That is totally wrong," said the 69-year-old retired government weather forecaster. "Down the line, as long as they stay in the United States, they wind up getting all kinds of benefits that the taxpayers are paying for."
However, Del Rio service station cashier Marcy Reyes disagreed. Reyes, who said she supports Perry's re-election bid against Democrat Bill White, opposed a constitutional amendment.
"If they're born here, just because their parents aren't from here doesn't mean they're not American citizens. They should still be able to have a chance," she said.