Wyoming residents are divided on how the federal government should handle legislation regarding undocumented immigrants, according to a University of Wyoming survey.
Results from the University of Wyoming Statewide Election Survey revealed about 37 percent of Wyoming residents favor deporting illegal immigrants back to their home countries. Conversely, about 39 percent would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States to work for a limited time. About 25 percent of those surveyed favored providing the undocumented with a path to citizenship, according to a UW news release announcing the survey results.
The opinions regarding immigration are largely divided along party lines in Wyoming as well as nationally, said Oliver Walter, UW emeritus professor of political science and the survey’s co-director.
“(Immigration is) a national issue, and it’s one of the main ones that divide the parties at the national level,” he said in a phone interview. “This is just how we fit in with that national dialogue, and we are very consistent with the national dialogue. The Republican Party has one strong position, and the Democrats have one strong position.”
About 15 percent of surveyed Republicans would provide a path to citizenship, according to a news release about the survey. More than half of the Wyoming Democrats surveyed would provide a path to citizenship.
“The most preferred position for Republican identifiers was to permit the undocumented to remain to work, but only for a limited amount of time,” Walter said.
The survey also asked questions regarding the Dream Act, which halts deportations for those who came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday and who meet certain qualifications, according to the release.
The act is backed by President Barack Obama and other leading Democrats.
“A significant majority of Wyoming citizens favor the provisions of the Dream Act,” according to the news release. Wyoming residents likely favored the Dream Act because Obama’s name was not mentioned in the survey question, Walter said.
“When you ask about the Dream policy, there’s a lot more unanimity, and it’s simply because Obama’s name wasn’t connected with the question,” he said.
That support would likely drop away if a larger percentage of residents knew the policy was put forth by Obama, Walter said.
“The president is a negative cue for many Wyomingites and, if he favors a position, their initial reaction is to oppose it,” he says in the release. “Eliminate the partisan cues, and it might be possible to reach accord on immigration reform, but partisan polarization shows no signs of abating either in Wyoming or at the national level. Therefore, reform in the next several years is highly unlikely.”
The statewide telephone survey of 768 Wyoming residents was conducted in October by UW’s Survey Research Center and was sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Wyoming Public Radio and the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.