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Most Arizonans think stepping up pressure on employers to verify the citizenship status of prospective employees would be the best way to rein in illegal immigration, according to a new survey.

ThinkAZ, a nonpartisan research institute, found 64 percent of those polled said requiring employers to screen applicants for citizenship would be “effective” against illegal immigration.

Pollsters also found only 30 percent of respondents support granting illegals who have been in the country three years or more any sort of amnesty or path to citizenship, according to the Arizona Republic.

Federal law already requires employers to verify citizenship status of prospective hires. And Proposition 200, passed by statewide referendum in November 2004, requires Arizona residents to provide proof of citizenship when voting and applying for some public assistance programs.

But there remains opposition to Prop 200, and the federal requirement for employers is poorly enforced, say immigration reformists.

And while the ThinkAZ poll did not specifically ask respondents if they favored a general amnesty for illegal immigrant residents, it did ask voters if all illegals should be required to return to their native countries or whether some should be allowed to remain in the United States if they hold jobs, have roots here and have no criminal record, the Republic reported. Sixty-eight percent favor the latter.

President Reagan, with the help of a Democrat-controlled Congress, passed a law in 1986 granting amnesty to about 3 million resident illegal aliens. The law did not provide instant citizenship, but it did confer legal resident status.

Lawmakers hoped the amnesty would solve the problem, but it didn’t; illegal immigration has soared in recent years. Some estimates put the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. as high a 13 million.

In other poll results:

  • Forty-four percent said altering the law to deny children born to illegal immigrants inside the U.S. automatic citizenship would work to stem the problem

  • Forty-two percent said a plan to limit access to public education to only U.S. citizens would be “effective” in reducing illegal immigration

  • Most respondents favored imposing severe fines on employers who hire illegal aliens; requiring public-sector employees to report illegal immigrants to the proper authorities; establishment of a militarized “no crossing” zone; and the refusal of providing publicly funded health care and social services to illegals.

A similar poll conducted by the Arizona Republic produced comparable results, the paper said.

The ThinkAZ poll involved 600 registered voters. It was conducted from Oct. 6 to 9 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points.

Related story:

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