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Evidence suggests that public opinion has a significant and measurable impact on legislative, executive, and citizen interaction. The state of Idaho is no exception. In this white paper, we examine a sample of the opinions of Idahoans, as expressed in the Public Policy Survey, on the subject of immigration.

In the 18th and 19th Annual Idaho Public Policy Surveys, the survey sample was asked to respond to a number of questions concerning immigration in Idaho. Questions on the survey ranged from economic impacts to the quality of education to indigent medical care. Of the many benefits that the data offers, some of the not inconsequential benefits are an additional outlet through which citizens may express their opinions, and additional information provided for decision makers.

Generally, the information gathered from the survey is used discretely, year by year, to inform policy makers. In this white paper, we have taken a look at the immigration questions in the last two iterations of the survey and summarized the results.

The following is a list of findings:

• Idaho residents feel strongly that undocumented immigrants reduce the quality of education for Idaho children.

• Idahoans have indicated that they feel that counties should deny indigent medical care to undocumented immigrants.

• An English-only policy for the state of Idaho is a very popular concept for Idahoans.

• Stricter immigration policy is not likely to negatively affect the economy.

We offer some concluding thoughts at the end of the survey data presentation. Our sense is that the presentation of the perceptions of the public related to immigration is only part of the story. What is clearly missing is any secondary empirical analysis of, for instance, the measurable effects of illegal immigrants on school performance. What we seem to glean from this analysis is that there is much yet to be learned about immigration and its effects on Idaho and Idahoans.

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