GOP Out Of Step With Nation On ‘Pathway To Citizenship’ For Illegal Immigrants

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While immigration reform remains moribund in the House of Representatives, there seems to be general agreement among Republicans that the most controversial part of the Senate bill is the portion which would grant a temporary legal status to most of the people who are in the United States legally. The major exceptions in the law would either prohibit those with a criminal record from obtaining any kind of legal status, or make it much more difficult for them to do so. Eventually, the people granted this temporary legal status will become eligible to apply for Permanent Resident status, the so-called “Green Card” which hasn’t been green in color for quite some time, and eventually to apply for citizenship if they so desire. In both cases, though, the Senate bill would require people who are here legally to wait longer to apply for these immigration benefits than a person who pursued emigration to the United States legally would have to wait, a requirement which seems quite reasonable under the circumstances. Under the Senate bill, for example, it would take at least 13 years before such people could proceed down either of these paths, and they would also be required to pay fines associated with their illegal status and to pay any unpaid income taxes they may owe. In the House, though, and specifically among Republican members and the GOP base, the very idea of any kind of pathway to citizenship is seen as a deal killer for immigration reform. Based on the polling, though, it seems rather obvious that this is yet another issue where Republicans are out of step with the country as a whole.

First up, The New York Times reports on a new poll from Public Religion Research Institute which shows widespread public support for the idea:

A consistent and solid majority of Americans — 63 percent — crossing party and religious lines favors legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally, while only 14 percent support legal residency with no option for citizenship, according a report published Monday by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute.

Those surveyed expressed strong support for citizenship for 11.7 million immigrants in the country without documents just as Congress appears to be shifting away from that approach, with Republican leaders in the House working on measures that would offer legal status without a direct path to naturalization.

Sixty percent of Republicans, 57 percent of independents and 73 percent of Democrats favor a pathway to citizenship, according to the report. Majorities of Protestants, Catholics and Americans with no religious affiliation also support that plan.

The institute found that there is slightly less support for limiting the immigrants to legal residency than there is for a tough enforcement strategy of identifying and deporting them, a policy favored by 18 percent.

The report is based on results from four national surveys, one in Ohio and focus groups in Arizona, Florida and Ohio. It compares results from a national poll in March with a similar bilingual telephone survey that was conducted nationwide in English and Spanish from Nov. 6 to 10 among 1,005 adults, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The nonprofit research institute conducts surveys on public policy issues and religious values.

Support for citizenship has not changed significantly since March, the institute found.

The group drilled down into that issue, creating subgroups for the November survey who were asked questions with differing levels of detail about the requirements immigrants should have to meet to become citizens. When there was no mention of requirements, 59 percent supported an option for citizenship. When the question specified that immigrants would have to pay back taxes, learn English and pass background checks, support increased to 71 percent.

The requirements were “most important for Republicans,” the report said. When the question did not mention requirements, only about four in 10 Republicans supported citizenship. When the requirements were described in more detail, Republican support increased to 62 percent.

In June, the Senate passed a broad bipartisan bill with a 13-year pathway to citizenship that includes the hurdles mentioned in the poll: paying back taxes and passing English tests and criminal background checks. House leaders have said they will not take up that measure, but will address immigration issues in smaller bills. Several House Republican leaders have said they are drafting measures that would provide “lawful status” for many unauthorized immigrants but no “special path” to citizenship.

According to the report, nearly seven in 10 Americans believe the 13-year wait for citizenship under the Senate bill is too long, while 24 percent said it was just right.

These results are largely mirrored in a Quinnipiac poll from earlier this month:

According to a Quinnipiac University survey from earlier in November, 57% of registered voters nationwide support a pathway to citizenship, while 13% say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay but not become citizens.

Twenty-six percent, however, say those immigrants should be required to leave, while four percent are unsure.

The Quinnipiac survey also shows that 44% of Republicans  support a pathway to citizenship, while 53% do not, although that number is divided between 15% who say that people here illegally should be allowed to stay, presumably under some other form of status, while 38% say that they should not be permitted to stay. Other polling has indicated that Republican opposition to a pathway to citizenship specifically, and immigration reform in general, is even stronger than this poll would indicate, although it’s worth noting that the PRRI survey, which was of all adults rather than registered voters like the Quinnipiac and other polls has been, showed that even a majority of Republicans support the idea of a pathway to citizenship and the general outlines of the Senate bill. (You can read the full PRRI survey in this PDF file.)  However the numbers pan out, though, it’s clear that the most activist wing of the Republican Party, most especially including the Tea Party movement stands strongly against almost any form of immigration reform, and most especially against the idea that the 11 million or so people who are here illegally  would receive some kind of legal status that could, eventually, lead them to become citizens of the United States.

Largely because of this, the very idea of a pathway to citizenship seems to be “dead on arrival” in the House of Representatives. Instead, the only immigration ideas that the House GOP seems to be considering are piecemeal efforts dealing with the children of illegal immigrants and, of course, the old Republican theme of “border security” and somehow ramping up security along America’s southern border even more than it has been in recent years on the theory that this will somehow deal with the problem of illegal immigration. Completely ignored in any Republican proposals, though, is the question of what to do with the population of people here illegally. Any immigration plan that doesn’t deal with that issue isn’t really worthy of being called a plan at all.

In the end, though, the larger point is that this is yet another example of a policy issue where the GOP is acting in a manner that’s totally out of sync with where the public stands on an important public policy issue. It’s been fashionable over the past year to say that the GOP’s position on immigration reform has the potential to harm the GOP even further among Latino voters, but what polls like this indicate is that the party is also out of step with the broader voting public, something that is true on a number of other issues as well. One wonders how long Republicans can think they can go on like this and not suffer for it at the ballot box.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Doug Mataconis, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Interesting. The majority of the country agrees that Obamacare is a bad law, yet OTB took the stance that trying to defund/repeal it was a Bad Idea.




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  2. michael reynolds says:

    @William Teach:

    You know what might turn that around? Republicans putting forth a health care plan. You know, actually trying to do something useful other than lose wars, run up deficits, crash the economy and just generally fwck up everything they touch, and then spend 5 years whining like little bitchez as we attempt to clean up after them.




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  3. Tillman says:

    @William Teach: Insurance is categorically more complex than immigration.




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  4. Todd says:

    @William Teach:

    If you asked me to answer yes/no to the question “Is ‘Obamacare’ a bad law”, my honest answer would probably be yes too.

    … but primary because I think we need single payer to truly reform our F’d up healthcare system.




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  5. C. Clavin says:

    A dearth of fresh ideas from Republicans? Say it isn’t so.




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  6. al-Ameda says:

    @William Teach:
    Interesting, the Republican Party thought it was a good idea to leverage their agenda into (1) a possible downgrade in the rating on American debt securities, something they actually accomplished in 2011, and (2) a possible default on American debt. Kind of an anti-capitalist approach there, don’t you think?




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  7. Woody says:

    the GOP is acting in a manner that’s totally out of sync with where the public stands on an important public policy issue.

    “The public” is the issue here, as it’s far too broad of an entity. The public that concerns House Republicans are as follows:

    1. Would this be popular among minorities? If so, it’s dead, as minorities do not vote Republican.

    2. Would this be popular among white males? If not, it’s dead as white men do vote Republican.

    3. Could a primary challenger position his/herself to the right of a Republican incumbent on this issue? If so, it is dead, as party activists will vote for the challenger in a primary, especially if the district has been designed as “safe Republican”.

    Whether the policy would be good for “the American public” or not has no currency in today’s Republican calculus. Their six-year tactic of spiking the general economy as a tactic of party attrition demonstrates this rather well.




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  8. C. Clavin says:

    @William Teach:
    Lost on the silly man dressed up as a pirate is that the majority of that majority wants Obamacare to go further…not repeal it and replace it with nothing…which is the only idea Republicans have.




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  9. Rob in CT says:

    I suspect the support for “pathway to citizenship” is shallower than the opposition, though. Think of gun control arguments. You have tepid majority support for various bits of regulation (a vague “do something”) repeatedly defeated by an ardent minority. This might be like that. Dunno, just a thought.




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  10. Rob in CT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think it’s a minority of the majority. If you add those who favor the law to those who dislike it because they want single-payer, I think that gets you over 50%, which is the point.




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  11. C. Clavin says:

    @Rob in CT:
    I can’t find the polling…I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time today.




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  12. steve s says:

    One wonders how long Republicans can think they can go on like this and not suffer for it at the ballot box.

    Have you met any Tea Partiers? Understanding sh1t is not their defining characteristic.




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  13. bandit says:

    @michael reynolds: More excuse making and blame shifting for the idiot POS Obama.




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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @bandit: More ignoring of simple facts. Jesus couldn’t clean up the pile of dog turds Bush and Co. left behind.




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  15. John425 says:

    @michael reynolds: ” … as we attempt to clean up after them.”

    You haven’t been very successful at this, have you?




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  16. al-Ameda says:

    @John425:

    @michael reynolds: ” … as we attempt to clean up after them.”
    You haven’t been very successful at this, have you?

    That’s certainly a measure of just how big a mess the GOP left us with back in 2008, isn’t it?

    By the way, at the time Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, the economy was shedding jobs at a rate of over 700,000 per month, we certainly have moved away from that catastrophe, and we now have slow steady economic growth, rather than precipitous job losses..




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  17. Mike says:

    The GOP calls being out of step “tradition”. Surely they have their own plan. Right? Right?

    I bet they have a good plan to start a never ending war




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  18. michael reynolds says:

    @John425:

    Actually, yes, Mr. Obama has thus far 1) Avoided financial meltdown, 2) Ended the Iraq war, 3) Killed Osama who was allowed to escape by Mr. Bush, 4) Gone from losing 700,000 jobs a month to adding jobs every month.

    But yeah, it’s hard. Because when you people make a mess you make a hell of a mess.




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  19. the Q says:

    “…..One wonders how long Republicans can think they can go on like this and not suffer for it at the ballot box……”

    Uh, sorry Doug, you used “Republican” and “think” in the same sentence. As someone who’s been around for awhile, very rarely in the last 35 years have those two words belonged together in the same sentence.

    The GOP is a collection of brain dead horse manure filled old southern racists and rich white guys totally out of touch with the modern world.

    How the Democratic Party has not wiped them off the face of the earth as the top 1% have gained 98% ALL income increases since 2008 is really the central unanswered question of the last 25 years.

    While the GOP is totally devoid of any reason to exist, why can’t the Dems ever admit that undocumented aliens have destroyed the wages of many of the very Dems which this old New Dealer considers to be the backbone of the party – hard working lower and middle class workers who lack a college degree or union membership.




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  20. superdestroyer says:

    The difference is that the Repubicans would like to survive as a relavent political party while most Americans seem to want a one party state with a massive government that will redistribute wealth away from others and to themselves.

    The problem for the Republicans and conservatives is that there is no path to survive. The Republicans can come out for comprehensive immigraiton reform and the Democrats will still get a larger percentage of the Latino vote than they received in 2012 or the Republicans can try to survive as some form of a conservative party and just let the current demographic trends overwhelm them.

    The real uestion for Latinos is what do they think the U.S. will be like when it becomes a one party state and no level of incompetence will get a Democrat voted out of office.




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  21. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The difference is that the Repubicans would like to survive as a relavent political party while most Americans seem to want a one party state with a massive government that will redistribute wealth away from others and to themselves.

    LOL!




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  22. An Interested Party says:

    …a massive government that will redistribute wealth away from others and to themselves.

    Indeed, from Reagan to Bush, a fabulous job has been done shoveling most of the wealth in this country to the very wealthiest…




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  23. Kylopod says:

    @William Teach:

    The majority of the country agrees that Obamacare is a bad law, yet OTB took the stance that trying to defund/repeal it was a Bad Idea.

    There’s a good reason why OTB took the stance that trying to defund the law was a bad idea (besides the fact that it was bound to fail, as it did): most Americans opposed trying to defund the law.

    The fallacy in your argument is that disapproval of a law does not automatically imply agreement with any method of trying to get rid of it. But there’s also a larger point here that I find fascinating. I’m hereby calling it the Ted Cruz Principle, since Cruz became its most prominent representative during the shutdown fiasco. The principle can be stated as follows: Public opinion polls are not to be trusted and can be safely ignored—except those on Obamacare popularity. So when polls show majority support for increasing taxes on the rich, raising the minimum wage, leaving Social Security and Medicare alone, creating a path to citizenship, and allowing same-sex marriage, none of that matters. Only polls specifically asking people whether they like the ACA mean anything.

    Cruz brought this principle to its absurd extremes a few weeks ago when he cited Obamacare polls to support his doomed government shutdown scheme. On the basis of those polls alone, he said he was acting according to the will of the people. The logic seemed to be that those polls were a more reliable guide to whether the public wanted a shutdown than polls actually asking the public whether they wanted a shutdown. (The next step, I suppose, would be to use the Obamacare polls as proof of the enduring popularity of the entire GOP agenda: “The polls show Americans don’t want illegal aliens getting health care–secure our borders! The polls show America wants a a health-care system that returns to traditional values–down with gay marriage!”)

    What’s most striking to me about the Cruz Principle is its fundamental dishonesty. In the past, I’ve felt that conservative distrust of polls, while delusional, was at least sincere. But once you start citing individual polls based on how much they support what you’re saying, while ignoring all others, that suggests you aren’t simply running away from the truth, but are actively hostile toward it. It isn’t sincere delusion but a deliberate attempt to mislead. Conservatives who use this tactic must know the public isn’t on their side. They simply believe that they’re entitled to do anything to promote their beliefs, making use of empirical evidence when it suits their purposes, and pretending it doesn’t exist the rest of the time.




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  24. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I guess progressives have alreay forgotten that the parts of the federal budget that are growing are medicaid/medicare/social security. I doubt if those programs are moving taxpayers money to the rich but are moving money to others.

    Entitlement spending is growing as a percentage of the federal budget. That means that the future of politics is about how to fund entitlements and who gets the best deals. One party is more than enough to operate a federal government where entitlements and transfer payments have squeezed out everything else.




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  25. An Interested Party says:

    I doubt if those programs are moving taxpayers money to the rich but are moving money to others.

    Uhh, no sweetie, that would be tax policy, among other goodies…and I notice you didn’t talk another form of entitlement spending–the military budget…




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  26. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    The biggest portion of defense spending is payroll. The amount of money flowing to active duty military, civil servants and contractor personnel dwarfs anything that is being transferred to the rich. I doubt if Wall Street really cares about low earning defense contractors.




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  27. Latino_in_Boston says:

    Of course they are out of step! The good news/bad news is that they are protected structurally from their own stupidity for now until the coming demographic tsunami overwhelms them. That won’t be for a while, but it will come, and when it does, people will say, well, yeah, if only we had not pretended that minorities did not exist maybe we would not be where we are.




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  28. superdestroyer says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:

    But then what happens to all of those poor Latino voters in the coming one party state. What happens to politicians do not have to face the threat of being voted out of office no matter how bad they are.




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  29. Latino_in_Boston says:

    The US will never become a one party state. Ever. Republicans might die out, but they will be replaced by another party, maybe parties.




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  30. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    But then what happens to all of those poor Latino voters in the coming one party state. What happens to politicians do not have to face the threat of being voted out of office no matter how bad they are.

    I hate to admit it, but, you’re right, Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert are untouchable.




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  31. BIll H says:

    This is nonsense. Of course the public is against this legislation. The Pugh poll showed 60% are opposed to it. This is just another way for the political class to change the voters if they dont do as they are supposed to. The public wants enforcement and it sure as heck does not want another 30 million brought here legally when so many people are out of work as this “reform” legilation will do.




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  32. al-Ameda says:

    @BIll H:

    does not want another 30 million brought here legally when so many people are out of work as this “reform” legilation will do.

    30M – I’ve heard that the number is 12M?
    Conservatives seem to have revised the number significantly.




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  33. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Once again, progressives push the POV that letting people keep their own money in the form of lower taxes is the same as giving the people more money. Maybe progressives need to remeber is that it is not really the governments money until they take it from someone (or borrow it from someone)




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  34. I think the major difference is that the Republicans would like to survive as a relevant political party and on the other hand most Americans looking to want a one party state with a massive government that will redistribute wealth away from others and to themselves. Now one thing which i want to add which is anyone know the cause or reason for the illegal immigration???? We must think about it, to know the reason and then solve it.




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  35. superdestroyer says:

    @US Immigration Policy:

    If the U.S. cannot get its own economic house in order, does anyone really believe that we can get most of third world to get their economies in order. The reason why there is illegal immigraiton is that some Americans would like to set the number of legal immigrants to below the number who want to come to the U.S. If Americans want to limit the number of legal immigrants, then the U.S. has to commit itself to immigration enforcement. If the U.S. does not want to enforce its own immigration laws and its borders, then it has to understand that unscrupulous employers will take advantage to lower their labor costs.




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