BAY AREA NEWS GROUP — About half of Californians say they support President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban and more deportations of undocumented immigrants, according to a new poll that challenges the conventional belief that residents of the left-leaning Golden State are overwhelmingly allergic to the administration’s hard line on immigration.
The survey, released Wednesday by UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, shows that while residents of the country’s only sanctuary state value diversity and inclusion on all fronts — from economic and racial justice to immigration reform — their viewpoints on politics, race and culture are sometimes complex and even contradictory.
“It’s a state whose progressive movement has grown and matured … and yet we’re still seeing high levels of inequality across the state and other social justice issues that are problematic,” said Olivia Araiza, director of the Haas Institute’s Blueprint for Belonging project, which commissioned the survey. The group, which opposes Trump’s policies, said it found some of the results unsettling.
About 24 percent of the survey’s participants said it’s “very important” for the U.S. to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants, while 35 percent said it’s “somewhat important,” according to the poll.
And about 49 percent of Californians support temporarily banning people from Muslim-majority countries, according to the poll.
The Supreme Court has allowed Trump’s third version of the travel ban to go into effect temporarily and is expected to rule on the issue in June.
Immigrant advocates were quick to point to other findings in the survey that they say balance out concerns that California isn’t welcoming to immigrants: For example, 71 percent of residents think that establishing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants is somewhat or very important; 79 percent support a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers — the young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — and 66 percent reject the idea that a border wall is an important immigration policy.
And 79 percent of Californians said they believe it is important to take in immigrants and refugees from countries in which people are trying to escape war and violence. Of those, 66 percent agree if the refugees are from Muslim countries.
“Seeing all these other indicators (in the study) — limiting involvement with ICE, supporting citizenship — to me I think that speaks to the spirit of California,” said Jon Rodney, spokesman for the California Immigrant Policy Center in Oakland, an immigrant advocacy group. “I think some of these outlier results may be looking more into the attitudes of certain areas where there needs to be more education.”
The results come as a growing number of Southern California cities, including Escondido in San Diego County and Los Alamitos in Orange County, are rebelling against the state’s sanctuary policies. Some of those sentiments are reflected in the survey results, said Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College.
“This is a purple state, and there are fairly blue areas and fairly red areas such as San Diego and the Inland Empire,” she said. “There are plenty of conservatives in California. I think we forgot that millions here actually did vote for Donald Trump and do support his policies.”
Melinda Jackson, a political scientist at San Jose State, said people tend to think of California as a “solid blue state.”
“But we do have some real political differences in different regions of the state,” she said. “We’re kind of in the most liberal political bubble here in the Bay Area.”
The Haas Institute sampled residents across the state with a focus on six regions — Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, the Inland Empire, the Fresno Valley and the Bay Area — and plans to publish additional reports on the survey results.
The wide-ranging online survey was done in partnership with the polling firm Latino Decisions; 2,440 California residents anonymously shared their attitudes on issues about race, immigration, Dreamers, policies of social inclusion and exclusion, the border wall and more.
The report also found that 79 percent of residents agree that economic inequality is a major problem in California; 59 percent said having a growing number of people of different races, ethnic groups and nationalities makes America a better, not worse, place to live; and 93 percent agree that respecting other people’s cultural differences is important.
Michelson said the findings illustrate how “movable” people’s attitudes can be.
“And that’s really where opinion leaders, politicians and advocates come in,” she said. “If they draw attention to the fact that they’re being inconsistent … You can probably shift their opinion.”
More from the survey
71% of Californians think that establishing a pathway to citizenship is somewhat or very important.
79% support a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers.
66% reject the idea that the U.S.-Mexico border wall is an important immigration policy priority.
64% agree that the state should limit hospital, school, and law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials.
67% think undocumented immigrants should be able to purchase health insurance on the California state exchange.
54% of Californians have positive views of Muslims
51% oppose banning people from majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, while 49% support the ban
Source: California Survey on Othering and Belonging Views on Identity, Race and Politics
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