Americans worry that illegal migrants threaten way of life, economy

Americans worry that illegal migrants threaten way of life, economy
U.S. President Barack Obama refers to the concept of corporations renouncing their citizenship to avoid taxes during a news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. State Department in Washington August 6, 2014.

KINGSTON, New Hampshire - As President Barack Obama considers sidestepping Congress to loosen US immigration policy, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Americans are deeply worried that illegal immigration is threatening the nation's culture and economy.

Seventy per cent of Americans - including 86 per cent of Republicans - believe undocumented immigrants threaten traditional US beliefs and customs, according to the poll.

The findings suggest immigration could join Obamacare - the healthcare insurance overhaul - and the economy as hot button issues that encourage more Republicans to vote in November's congressional election.

With Congress failing to agree on broad immigration reforms, Obama could act alone in the next few weeks to give work permits to up to 5 million undocumented immigrants and delay some deportations, according to media reports.

Hispanic and liberal voters would welcome that, but the online survey suggests much of the rest of the nation may not.

Despite arguments from the White House and groups like the US Chamber of Commerce that legal immigration benefits business, 63 per cent of people in the online survey also said immigrants place a burden on the economy.

While the economy and Obamacare remain the key concerns of voters, immigration has become more of an issue in recent months because of intense media coverage of a surge of illegal migrants, including tens of thousands of children, flooding into the United States from Central America.

Even 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from the US-Mexico border, the immigration debate is catching fire in New Hampshire. Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown last week launched a TV ad attacking Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen for "pro-amnesty policies" on immigration which he says she shares with Obama.

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