High-profile immigration debates in Arizona and Alabama may have relaxed Americans' attitudes about the children of illegal immigrants, a poll indicates.
A poll released Wednesday by public education advocacy group Phi Delta Kappa International indicates 41 percent of Americans asked said they favor "providing free public education, school lunches and other benefits" to children who are in the country illegally, USA Today reported Thursday.
The number is up from 28 percent of respondents who favored the same benefits in 1995, PDK said. The poll indicates a clear party divide on the issue, with 65 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of Republicans supporting the funding.
PDK Executive Director William Bushaw said debates over get-tough state immigration legislation may have given the issue of education for the children of illegal immigrants higher prominence in people's minds.
Wendy Puriefoy, president of the Public Education Network, said 41 percent is a "very disheartening" number.
"We're all immigrants and we've always helped each other. And the fact that people are thinking that they don't want to help each other anymore just doesn't feel like what most Americans I know believe in their hearts," she said.
PDK conducted the poll of 1,002 adults from May 7-June 4 with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, USA Today reported.
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