The Public Policy Institute of California has released a statewide survey (link), and some of their findings are questionable due to a lack of specificity in the questions. And, some of the finding have been spun:
While political reform dominates conversation in the state capitol, Californians say immigration (19%) is the most important issue facing the state today, followed by jobs and the economy (13%), and education (12%). Despite their concerns about immigration, a majority of residents (60%) also believe immigrants are a benefit to the state because of their hard work and job skills, while one-third (33%) say they are a burden because of their use of public services.
It bears repeating that to the respondents, immigration is the #1 issue. Unfortunately, this is where their linguistic laxity starts to play a role.
Looking at the PDF (ppic.org/content/pubs/survey/S_307MBS.pdf), we see that the 19% number was apparently a free-form question allowing people to supply their own answer to the question "First, thinking about the state as a whole, what do you think is the most important issue facing people in California today?" In the top spot is "immigration, illegal immigration"; one wonders why they didn't break that out into two figures. The answer is probably because they were using codes for various answers and, as revealed elsewhere, they seem unable to grasp the differences between legal and illegal immigration.
See, for instance, another question which is referenced in the second paragraph above:
Please indicate which statement comes closest to your own view—even if neither is exactly right: [rotate]  Immigrants today are a benefit to California because of their hard work and job skills [or]  Immigrants today are a burden to California because they use public services.
Obviously, this is a fundamentally stupid question. It combines different types of immigration into one amorphous whole, and it assumes that the question is only one of financial matters rather than other issues such as the associated political corruption and such.
Should immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally be allowed to apply for work permits which would allow them to stay and work in the United States, or shouldn’t they be allowed to do that?
64% said yes, but I wonder whether this question could have been phrased better, such as by using "illegal aliens" rather than leading with "immigrants" then revealing they're here illegally.
The language in the previous question is a bit different from two others:
Do you favor or oppose providing health care coverage for illegal immigrants in California?
43% favor, 53% oppose.
Would you favor or oppose state legislation allowing illegal immigrants to get a California driver's license?
43% favor, 54% oppose.
California · Thu, 03/29/2007 - 11:24 · Importance: 1