Many Idaho residents think counties shouldn’t cover the cost of medical care to illegal immigrants and that a stricter immigration policy wouldn’t hurt the state economy, according to a Boise State University (BSU) survey analysis. The study also said that Idahoans support an English-only policy and feel that illegal immigrants reduce the quality of public education in the state.
The findings, based on surveys of at least 500 people from 2006 and 2007, are a gauge of opinions, not a study of policy results.
“We have a fairly clear understanding of how Idahoans perceive immigrant influences from these surveys,” Dr. Gregory Hill, an assistant professor at BSU, wrote in the study. “The question is, to what extent do perceptions adhere to actual implications?” Hill also calls potential public policy responses to immigration super-charged emotional issues.
The study calls for more research on illegal immigrants’ effect on the state economy and education system, though it says that illegal immigrants are difficult to study because they prefer not to be found, and the state does not keep track of public school students who are illegal immigrants.
Hill’s analysis found that:
- 54 percent of those polled strongly or somewhat agreed that undocumented immigrants reduce the overall quality of education for Idaho children, while 35 percent somewhat or strongly disagreed.
- A similar ratio of people polled felt that Idaho counties should deny indigent medical care to undocumented immigrants.
- 68 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that Idaho should adopt an English-only policy, though the survey question didn’t specify whether such a policy would apply to government documents, public education, 911 phone lines, or other government services.
- 46 percent felt somewhat or strongly that a stricter immigration policy wouldn’t negatively affect Idaho’s economy.