Survey: Majority of Floridians oppose ‘sanctuary cities'


A majority of Floridians oppose giving more assistance to undocumented immigrants or creating so-called "sanctuary cities" where those immigrants could avoid deportation, according to a new poll from the University of South Florida and The Nielsen Company.

The annual Sunshine State Survey, which released the second batch of this year's findings on Monday, shows 55 percent of Floridians opposed to giving more rights or assistance to undocumented immigrants, with the strongest opposition coming from older Floridians and residents of Tampa Bay and North Florida.

Among those surveyed, 23 percent were more supportive of immigrants, with much of that support coming from millennials, minority residents and low-income households.

Some 58 percent of Floridians opposed creating safe zones in cities where undocumented immigrants would not face deportation, with 33 percent in support.

Almost half --- 49 percent --- of Floridians support a ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons, while 37 percent oppose it. Support for the ban is strongest among women, older residents and African-Americans.

Six out of 10 Floridians want to make it harder or impossible for a felon to regain gun ownership rights, with strongest support for the idea coming from women, older Floridians and households with a young child.

The survey also shows that only 23 percent of Floridians think the state is doing a good or excellent job in reducing human and sex trafficking.

Forty-two percent of Floridians support the recreational use of marijuana, with 40 percent opposed. Thirty percent support repealing the death penalty, with 44 percent opposed. Some 27 percent support repealing the Stand Your Ground self-defense law, with 43 percent opposed.

"Florida's very diverse population has yielded intense debates about immigration, gun ownership, human trafficking and individual rights," said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at USF who oversees the survey, which focuses on key issues in Florida. "A common thread tying these issues together is a genuine concern for the personal safety and security of those who live in the Sunshine State. Stark differences are in opinions on how to make it happen. Generational, racial and gender divides are the deepest on immigration, human trafficking and gun ownership."

The 2016 Sunshine State Survey interviewed 1,248 Florida residents from Sept. 1 to Sept. 19, with a margin of error of 2.77 percentage points.