Campaigning on Arizona law may help Republicans: study

PHOENIX Wed May 26, 2010 7:09am EDT

People protest Arizona's new immigration law outside the Staples Center prior to the start of Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference final playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles May 17, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

People protest Arizona's new immigration law outside the Staples Center prior to the start of Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference final playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles May 17, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Republican candidates who make Arizona's immigration crackdown a campaign issue could benefit in this election year, a study found on Wednesday.

Last month, Arizona passed a law that requires state and local police to determine the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally.

The new poll by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo found 40 percent of registered voters said they would side with a Republican congressional candidate who supported the state law.

Just 26 percent said they would back a Democratic candidate who opposed it.

Overall, 61 percent of the respondents to the poll said they backed the Arizona law, while 60 percent said they would support comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

The law has reopened a spirited national debate over immigration, and re-energized efforts by President Barack Obama and ruling Democrats to overhaul federal immigration laws.

Analysts say there is little chance of any reform passing the U.S. Congress ahead of midterm elections on November 2.

Obama supports a system allowing undocumented immigrants in good standing to pay a fine, learn English and become citizens. He also backs tightening border security and clamping down on employers that hire undocumented workers.

The poll of 700 adults carried out between Thursday and Sunday found that just 32 percent of respondents approved of Obama's handling of immigration reform.

Arizona's law comes into effect on July 29, barring a successful legal challenge.

Critics charge that it is unconstitutional and a mandate for racial profiling, although previous polls have shown a majority of Americans support it.

On Tuesday, Obama's administration announced it would seek $500 million for security and send up to 1,200 National Guard troops to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor, editing by Todd Eastham)

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