A majority of likely voters say the federal government should take legal action against cities that provide safe havens to illegal immigrants and cut federal funds to so-called "sanctuary cities," a Rasmussen Reports survey shows.
The survey, released Tuesday, said 54 percent support legal action against sanctuary cities and 60 percent support withholding federal funds from the jurisdictions.
Critics of sanctuary cities say the Justice Department is acting unfairly by not pursuing such cities for breaking the law while taking legal action against Arizona for instituting state measures against illegal immigration.
"The federal government should be suing San Francisco, which has refused to cooperate with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws," said Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William (Va.) County Board of County Supervisors.
In 2007, Mr. Stewart was at the forefront of the issue, driving some of the county's toughest immigration laws.
"Our belief is that President Obama should be suing mayors [of sanctuary cities], not Arizona," said Maryland state Delegate Patrick L. McDonough, Baltimore County Republican. Mr. McDonough said he plans to introduce two immigration laws during the next General Assembly session: one that calls for a state ban on sanctuary cities and another patterned after the Arizona law.
A representative for U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. recently said a "big difference" exists between a state or locality choosing not to use resources to enforce a federal law and a state passing its own immigration policy that "actively interferes with federal law."
Rasmussen found that 56 percent of those surveyed oppose the Justice Department's action against Arizona and that 61 percent favor legislation similar to Arizona's in their own state.
Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and the District of Columbia are among the major U.S. cities that have adopted sanctuary ordinances, which prohibit police officers and other municipal employees from asking people about their immigration status.
The new Arizona law requires local police to check the immigration status of those who they suspect of being in the country illegally.
A federal judge is considering whether Arizona's law should take effect Thursday amid a flurry of legal challenges. At a hearing last week, Justice Department attorneys asked Judge Susan Bolton to block the law from taking effect as she hears several lawsuits that question the constitutionality of the measure. Her ruling is pending.
Opponents say the law will lead to racial profiling in Arizona. Supporters say the law is a necessary response to combat the litany of problems brought on by illegal immigration and the federal government's inability to secure the border.
The Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters, conducted Saturday and Sunday, found that 30 percent opposed Justice Department action against sanctuary cities and 15 percent were undecided. The margin of sampling error was three percentage points.
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