Majority of Floridians Want Tougher Policies

December 17, 2007

Majority of Floridians Want Tougher Policies
To Prevent, Respond to Illegal Immigration
“Sunshine State Survey” Reveals Divisions on the Issue

December 17, 2007

For more information on the survey results contact Brad Coker at 904-261-2444
For more information on Leadership Florida contact Wendy Abberger at 877-352-5323

Tallahassee – A new survey shows a majority of Floridians support tougher policies to deal with illegal immigration, even as many residents are mindful of the important role many illegal immigrants fill in the state’s economic and labor picture.

A new excerpt from the second annual Sunshine State Survey calls attention to this balancing act, as a majority of Floridians (51%) feel illegal immigration is a very serious problem in the state, with an additional 25% calling it a somewhat serious problem and only 22% indicating it was either not serious or not a problem at all.

The illegal immigration problem is also evident through a number of political divisions in the state. Registered voters top the list of those most likely to say it is a very serious problem (53%), followed by: Republicans (67%), Independents (59%), whites (55%) and African-Americans (53%). Those less likely to describe it as very serious are Democrats (37%) and Hispanics (34%).

“As Florida’s demographic landscape continues to shift and labor shortages in certain industries loom even larger, we will be forced to create solutions that leverage the kind of diversity and unique strengths for which our state is known,” said Wendy Abberger, president of Leadership Florida. ”The immigration issue undoubtedly must become a part of those essential dialogues among our decision-makers.”

Survey results show that a majority of Floridians (54%) support tougher policy measures to deal with illegal immigration, while 39% support guest worker programs and creating a path to citizenship. The approach to handling illegal immigration sparks several sharp political divisions in Florida. Registered voters top the list, this time as those most in favor of taking a tough approach (56%), Republicans (76%), Independents (63%), whites (57%) and African-Americans (56%). Democrats (58%) and Hispanics (60%) are in favor of creating a path to citizenship.

Floridians continue to recognize that illegal immigrants primarily fill jobs that others generally shun. Revealing similar sentiments in the 2006 Sunshine State Survey, 59% of Floridians currently feel that illegal immigrants primarily fill agriculture and tourism jobs, while only 34% said they are taking away jobs from Floridians.

The Sunshine State Survey -- commissioned by Leadership Florida and its partners, the Florida Philanthropic Network and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund -- takes an unbiased, non-politically aligned look at the opinions of Floridians. A total of 1,200 Florida residents were interviewed statewide by phone as part of this 2nd annual survey, which will be released in topical segments over the course of this month.  The survey was conducted November 19 through November 30, 2007 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C.
The attached file is also available for download on the Leadership Florida website,

Leadership Florida
Leadership Florida has developed a reputation for 25 years as a builder of a stronger, diverse statewide sense of community. A respected non-partisan convener, LF has taken the lead in training and developing leaders with a statewide, rather than parochial, view of our state’s needs.

Florida Philanthropic Network
The Florida Philanthropic Network strives for Florida to be successful in modeling and facilitating cooperation and collaboration among all sectors – business, government and nonprofit, to promote the best interest of all Floridians.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund, based in Jacksonville, Florida, invests in organizations and communities that were important to the founder, Mrs. duPont, making grants to more than 330 eligible organizations identified by her will.

Sunshine State Survey - Immigration