Immigration splits Coloradans |

Immigration splits Coloradans

Burt Hubbard
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado

COLORADO ” Immigration remains a polarizing issue, with Coloradans split over whether it helps or hurts the state, a new poll finds.

Just ask suburbanites Melissa Schluessler and Malcolm Stevenson. Schluessler said it is costing Colorado money in services, while Stevenson supports amnesty for workers not here legally.

The Rocky Mountain News/CBS4 News poll found that 50 percent felt immigration hurt Colorado, while 42 percent said it helped the state.

That’s little changed from two years ago, said pollster Lori Weigel.

“It not as big an issue, but it’s certainly on voters’ minds,” Weigel said.

In addition, the 500 registered voters polled were almost evenly divided over illegal immigration, with a third believing it had a major impact, a third a minor impact and a third saying it had not much impact at all.

The poll was taken Aug. 11 through 13 by Public Opinion Strategies and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

Public Opinion Strategies generally polls for Republican candidates. RBI Strategies, a firm that generally works with Democratic candidates, consulted on the creation of the questionnaire and its analysis.

In 2005 and 2006, immigration reached its peak as a lightning-rod issue in politics in Colorado, said Craig Hughes, director of research for RBI Strategies.

Pro-immigration groups rallied during those years in the streets of Denver, while anti-immigration groups pushed lawmakers to crack down on illegal immigrants.

“A lot of candidates thought this issue was going to be their silver bullet two years ago, and it didn’t work out so well,” Weigel added.

Joyce Anderson, of Delta, has seen how her out-of-work brother and sister have been affected by immigrants. She reflects the attitudes on the Western Slope, where 49 percent of those polled felt illegal immigration had a major impact.

She said many of the jobs her sister has applied for require bilingual skills, while the paperwork for food stamps her brother filled out urged immigrants not to be discouraged from applying if they were not here legally.

Stevenson said immigrants own U.S. homes and cars and have family members here legally.

“I am a believer in amnesty,” he said. “Do you break up families?”

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