This is ‘not a fringe issue’

Of all the poll results reported last week by the Review-Journal — including public opinions related to highway construction, education and the war in Iraq — the least-surprising findings dealt with illegal immigration.

Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. interviewed 625 registered Nevada voters on Monday and Tuesday — 262 Republicans, 259 Democrats and 104 independents. The majority of participants, regardless of their party affiliation, gender or region of residence, made it clear they’re sick of providing public services to illegal immigrants and that they want law enforcement to pay better attention to the issue.

Seventy-two percent of respondents said illegal immigrants who graduate from Nevada high schools should not be allowed to receive Millennium Scholarships, which provide four years of tuition to the state’s public colleges and universities. Seventy-seven percent of participants said election ballots and state documents should not be printed in languages other than English. And 81 percent of those polled said Nevada businesses should be cited and fined for employing illegals.

These are mainstream sentiments, and they’re nothing new. In other states, including neighboring Arizona and California, voters have easily approved initiatives intended to deny public services to illegal immigrants and force them to learn English.

The social and fiscal costs of illegal immigration are of urgent concern to most citizens. Our public school districts spend tens of millions of dollars educating children who can’t speak English, and our public hospitals are going broke providing care to people who prefer to exist within a gray economy. State and local officials, meanwhile, do nothing to stop noncitizens from running up the tab. In some cases, they encourage it.

Yet the stock response from too many “Hispanic advocates” is to accuse Americans of being “anti-immigrant” and hope that no one notices they’ve dropped the word “illegal” from the discussion.

Fernando Romero, president of Hispanics in Politics, is in a state of denial when it comes to illegal immigration and the sentiments of most citizens.

“There is a way to skew things (with polls),” Mr. Romero said after learning of the survey’s results. “I don’t think the poll reflects the diversity of the community.” He added that denying full college scholarships to illegals is “closing the door on the future of our children.”

Iris Contreras, a community organizer for the left-wing Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, also believes that the poll, whose participants were selected at random from around the state, is statistically irrelevant.

“I always say the people who have time to answer these questions probably don’t work or are retired,” she said. “They are more likely to have these anti-immigrant feelings.”

Notice the absence of the word “illegal.”

It doesn’t matter to Mr. Romero and Ms. Contreras that many Hispanic immigrants follow the law, enter the country legally, learn English and become productive citizens and taxpayers. According to the “diversity” world view, Hispanics who do none of those things should be in line for the same entitlements and privileges, even though they’ve entered the country illegally.

On principle, the issue has nothing to do with Hispanics. This is about the country’s collective disgust with the government’s refusal to enforce immigration laws.

As state Sen. Joe Heck, R-Henderson, says, “It’s not a fringe issue.” This is an overwhelming national sentiment. And if supporters of illegal immigration can’t recognize this, public opinion polls will soon be the least of their worries.

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