New Jerseyans evenly split on Syrian refugees
A new poll shows an even split in the Garden State over whether we should accept Syrian refugees.
The Rutgers/Eagleton poll finds 45 percent of state residents think New Jersey should continue to accept Syrian refugees and another 45 percent say the state should not.
"New Jerseyans are exactly split down the middle on the issue, with 45% of them siding with the Governor's position," said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.
Koning says of those who say the refugees should not be accepted, three-quarters say not even Syrian refugee children, just like the governor had stated a few weeks ago, should be accepted.
"There is ambivalence on refugees as a whole, and even on the level of accepting children, we see that those who don't want to accept refugees in general continue to not want to accept children as well," Koning said.
But there is also ambivalence on the whole immigration issue in this poll, with 34 percent of residents saying the number of immigrants in Jersey is too high, and 49 percent saying the number is just right.
"We see that those who are more negative about immigration in general are of course more negative about Syrian refugees specifically, and vice versa," she said.
Also, on the heels of the Paris and California massacres, the poll also revealed that "about half of New Jerseyans or more say that they are worried about another terrorist attack."
"New Jerseyans are actually much more in favor of what the government has been doing to reduce the threat of terror than Americans have been nationwide, from a poll that came out nationally a few weeks ago," Koning said. "Eighty-six percent of us actually support having more security and expensive surveillance in public places, especially after San Bernadino last week."
Koning added another cogent factor in the poll was timing.
"While we do not see a huge difference in accepting Syrian refugees, pre-versus-post San Bernadino, we did half of it before and half of it after the tragic shooting. We were right in the middle of polling. What we do see is that the San Bernadino shooting, the shooting itself and it being called a terrorist attack two days later does have an effect on heightening already high levels of worry regarding terrorists."
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.