Majority Backs Path To Citizenship In Immigration Reform

With the Senate’s version of immigration reform headed to the floor for debate after the recess, a new poll finds that a majority of Americans backs the idea of a path to citizenship for people here illegally:

In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 58 percent of all Americans support a so-called path to citizenship that would offer those currently living in the United States illegally a way to achieve legal status if they paid a fine and met other requirements. The Senate bill under consideration includes a 13-year pathway to citizenship after payment of a fine and any back taxes owed.

The overall support for the bill’s most controversial provision, however, masks partisan divisions that have colored the congressional debate. Majorities of Democrats and independents favor the path-to-citizenship proposal, but 52 percent of Republicans say they oppose it. Among Republicans who dislike the idea, most — 67 percent — say they could not support a congressional candidate who backs a citizenship path.

(…)

[I]t’s immigration reform that presents GOP lawmakers with a potentially difficult choice. Some prominent Republicans have said the party should get behind comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration laws to help overcome opposition to GOP candidates among Hispanic voters.

In last year’s presidential election, just 27 percent of Hispanic voters supported Republican Mitt Romney. Unless the party’s next nominees can significantly improve their support among Hispanics, winning back the White House will be difficult.

But with a narrow majority of the Republican rank-and-file opposed to a path to citizenship, Republican lawmakers know that a vote in favor of immigration reform might carry electoral consequences. That reality was reflected in Tuesday’s vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel approved the immigration bill, 13 to 5. But only three of eight Republicans on the committee joined the 10 Democrats to support it.

The bill will need 60 votes to clear the Senate. Supporters are hoping for a much bigger majority to give the legislation momentum as it heads to the House, where Republican opposition is expected to be even stronger.

A vote against a path to legal status carries less obvious risk for Republican lawmakers than a vote for it. In the poll, most Republicans who favor such a provision, 62 percent, say they could support a candidate who opposes it.

Will Republican Party internal politics end up killing the immigration bill? The possibility certainly seems likely. If that happens, though, one thinks that the GOP will come to regret it when 2014 and 2016 roll around.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Doug Mataconis, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Picks, 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. Caj says:

    The immigration issue should have been dealt with years ago! With millions already here it’s insane to think that any form of mass deportation could happen as much as some would like! They are here and we must deal with them in a fair way. Marco Rubio wants to be seen as the guiding light of the GOP in all this. It won’t wash with the die hard extreme right of the party. They want them gone and they want them all gone now! Of course in reality we know he is only pandering to make himself look good when he puts his name in the hat for 2016. Latino voters are not as stupid as he thinks they are. They know a fraud when they see one.




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  2. stonetools says:

    Will Republican Party internal politics end up killing the immigration bill? The possibility certainly seems likely.

    About as likely as tomorrow’s sunrise. The only question is whether it will die in Senate, or whether the House will do the deed.
    I predict it barely gets through the House, with most Republicans voting against, and then dies in the House. with the vast majority of Republicans voting against, and with all or most Democrats voting for. The choice for Hispanics and Asians too will be very clear for 2014 and 2016.




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  3. stonetools says:

    That’s “barely gets through the Senate.”




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  4. legion says:

    Can we keep the Mexicans and deport the Republicans?




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  5. superdesroyer says:

    @Caj:

    Amnesty was tried years ago (1986) and it was a massive failure. The number of illegal immigrants who were given amnesty was much higher than original estimates, the government never came through with the promised improved border security, there is still no real employer enforcement, and it made California a one party state where the Republicans are irrelevant.

    The idea that amnesty helps the economy, will help the Republicans, or be good for most Americans was proven wrong in the last amnesty. Americans have been burned by amnesty for illegal immigrants before and there is no reason to believe that it will be any different this time.

    It seems that the only way the Democras plan on limiting illegal immigrants is to lower the standard of living on the U.S. to the same level as Mexico so that third world immigrants will be discouraged from coming to the U.S.




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  6. superdesroyer says:

    @stonetools:

    Why would any Republican want to vote for something that will lead to the political extinction of conservative politics in the U.S. ?




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  7. Dave Schuler says:

    You might want to read a little farther in the poll. More than two-thirds of Americans and a majority of Democrats favor stronger border security. The percentage of those who favor a path to citizenship without strengthened border security is actually quite small.

    In addition, read the question more closely. A path to citizenship is conditional on paying a fine and meeting other requirements.

    I have no opposition to a path to citizenship for long-time resident illegal immigrants and especially for individuals brought here as children and who’ve never known any other country. However, I think the issue is being blown out of proportion. Following the 1986 amnesty the majority of those newly legalized did not seek citizenship. Nearly two-thirds. Clearly, they saw themselves as guest workers.

    We’re in desperate need of a guest worker program, particularly one that admits a significantly larger number of Mexican workers. By virtually any standard the path to citizenship has a lower importance.




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  8. al-Ameda says:

    in the new “60 votes are need to pass anything” senate, there is no chance that Republicans will let this one through.

    @Dave Schuler:

    You might want to read a little farther in the poll. More than two-thirds of Americans and a majority of Democrats favor stronger border security.

    Do Americans pay any attention to reality-based news at all? People are remarkably detached from the current reality, which is that our border security is stronger, and illegal immigration is at the lowest levels in over 30 years.




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  9. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda: The low level of illegal immigrant is due to the poor state of the U.S. economy and the decline of the housing industry in California, ARizona, and Nevada. Do Democrats really believe that the best way to limit illegal immigraiton is to lower the quality of life in the U.S. to the same level as Mexico?




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  10. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do Democrats really believe that the best way to limit illegal immigraiton is to lower the quality of life in the U.S. to the same level as Mexico?

    Historically, immigration to America has not resulted in lowering our standard of living. However if you want to argue that processing over 20 million immigrants – many from the poorest regions of Europe, Russia, and Asia Minor – be my guest.




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  11. al-Ameda says:

    @al-Ameda:
    sorry … I left out something …

    Historically, immigration to America has not resulted in lowering our standard of living. However if you want to argue that processing over 20 million immigrants through Ellis Island – many from the poorest regions of Europe, Russia, and Asia Minor – be my guest.




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