Most immigration views remain unchanged. But opposition to state assistance for new immigrants hardens.

Auburn, April 23, 2010: Despite an increase in strident anti-immigration rhetoric from some politicians, interest groups and talk radio hosts, Alabama’s residents don’t seem too riled up about the topic. Only 20 percent of Alabama adults interviewed in January said that recent immigrants have caused major problems in their communities. That is up just 3 percentage points from results recorded in a similar poll taken over five years ago, in the Fall of 2004. Both now and then, 44 percent pluralities of residents said that recent immigration has not had much impact on their communities. The rest saw improvements or just small problems resulting from immigration.

There is a slowly growing sense of the role that immigration plays in supplementing Alabama’s workforce. The latest poll, conducted in January, found 41 percent agreeing with the statement that “new immigrant workers bring needed skills to Alabama,” reflecting a rise of several percentage points since 2004 when 38 percent agreed. Younger residents, ages 18-34, urban residents, and residents of Southeast Alabama are much more likely than other Alabamians to acknowledge the growing importance of immigrant labor.

Change is more evident in the growing intensity of opposition to the state providing assistance to immigrants to help them transcend into life in Alabama. In 2004, just 37 of state strongly residents opposed such aid. In the latest January poll, intense opposition to immigrant aid rose to 46 percent. Older residents, males, and suburbanites are especially opposed to the state providing transition assistance to new immigrants.

The Ask Alabama survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted with a stratified random sample of 614 adult householders January 4 - 14, 2010. The sample’s geographic, gender, race, and age distributions were weighted to be proportionate to the United States Census Bureau’s data for Alabama’s adult (18+ years of age) householders. Patrick Rose, Manager of the Center’s Survey Research Laboratory that conducted the interviews, said that poll results based on the full statewide sample have a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.

The Ask Alabama Poll is to be conducted quarterly by the Center for Governmental Services, a unit of Auburn University Outreach that provides research, consulting and training to government agencies, not-for-profit associations, and private sector clients.

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