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Majority Of Americans Support Path To Citizenship For Illegal Immigrants

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows majority support for immigration reform that includes allowing people here illegally to eventually become citizens:

Fifty-seven percent of Americans in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, with 39 percent opposed. That’s virtually identical to results of a similar question last asked in mid-2010, with support up from its earlier levels, as low as 49 percent in late 2007.

Debate on the issue was heightened by restrictive immigration policies enacted in Arizona in 2010 and Alabama in 2011, and, in June, when Obama moved in another direction, granting immunity from deportation to many undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.

Hispanics accounted for 10 percent of voters in Tuesday’s presidential election, reaching double-digits for the first time, and Obama won them by 71-27 percent, improving on his 2008 margin in this group. In the exit poll, voters overall, by more than 2-1, said illegal immigrants working here should be offered a chance to apply for legal status rather than being deported.

In this survey, support for a path to citizenship peaks at 82 percent among Hispanics, 71 percent among Democrats and liberals alike and 69 percent among young adults, all key Obama groups. Support’s at 68 percent among nonwhites overall, compared with 51 percent among non-Hispanic whites. Obama lost white voters by 20 points last week, but won nonwhites — who accounted for a record 28 percent of the electorate – by 61 points. It was a record racial gap.

If nothing else, numbers like this should provide some political cover to legislators who support an immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. It should also send notice to Republicans that they’re on the wrong side of this issue, although one would have thought their performance among Latino voters would have sent that message quite loudly.

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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 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Yeah, but what percentage of that polled sample understand in the slightest the differences between citizenship and residency, between work visas for a guest worker program and green cards, much less the ramifications of citizenship as opposed to permanent residency? Keep in mind we’re dealing with a very dumbed down, very ignorant populace.

    Overwhelming majority support for work visas and then a path to residency for illegals certainly is believable. Overwhelming majority support for citizenship for illegals, however, is not really all that believable, even within Latino circles. Not if you were able to explain to the public what those terms actually mean from legal and practical standpoints.

    That all said, the Bush reform package of 2005 covered a lot of these bases. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce for years and years has had the framework down for a comprehensive reform package.

    Outside the very tail ends of the political bell curve one would surmise that the key points are not seriously debatable.

    - Clearly we need some type of guest worker program to assimilate this giant pool of black market labor into the legitimate economy.

    - Clearly we need a path to residency for illegals who for substantial periods of time have been living as law abiding residents.

    - Citizenship is a touchier subject.

    - If Pat Buchanan and organized labor both vehemently are opposed to whatever law eventually is signed that will mean ipso facto it’s a pretty good law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. bill says:

    it was like that in the 90′s i believe- kinda went away as the economy was fine and citizens didn’t want to pick fruit & vegetables. fast forward to 2008, nobody wants to pick fruits but they will work construction!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It should also send notice to Republicans that they’re on the wrong side of this issue, although one would have thought their performance among Latino voters would have sent that message quite loudly.

    Doug, that presumes the GOP listens to Latinos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  4. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Yeah, but what percentage of that polled sample understand in the slightest the differences between citizenship and residency, between work visas for a guest worker program and green cards, much less the ramifications of citizenship as opposed to permanent residency? Keep in mind we’re dealing with a very dumbed down, very ignorant populace.

    ALL of the absolutism has come from our “open borders” friends.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. I support a path to citizenship for people who were brought here by their parents when they were young children, provided they have graduated from high school, demonstrate English fluency and have no criminal record. An infant, or even a 10-year-old, did not make a voluntary choice to come here.

    I don’t think citizenship should be given to their parents. Legal residency, perhaps, but not citizenship. I feel the same way about adults who came here without minor children in tow. Give them a chance to obtain legal residency, but not citizenship. Exceptions can be made for adults who have served in the U.S. Military.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. SKI says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Yeah, but what percentage of that polled sample understand in the slightest the differences between citizenship and residency, between work visas for a guest worker program and green cards, much less the ramifications of citizenship as opposed to permanent residency? Keep in mind we’re dealing with a very dumbed down, very ignorant populace.

    People understand best, that which impacts them most. Most people don’t interact with the immigration laws and therefore don’t get the nuances. Limited interaction leads to simplistic thoughts on an issue. Kind of like you don’t apparently interact with a diverse population and have an overly-simplistic non-nuanced understanding of humanity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Geek, Esq. says:

    Of course, the 39% who oppose are 80% of the Republican base.

    As a Democrat and an American, I would see the best case scenario as one that involves a path to full citizenship, done with minimal Republican support over the LOUD objections of the vast majority of Congressional Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  8. @john personna:

    ALL of the absolutism has come from our “open borders” friends.

    Aparently you forgot the Republican candidates falling over each other at the primary debates to prove that they would all be far meaner to immigrants than any of the other candidates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Huh? “Open borders” is a code phrase used by an anti-immigration fringe in the Republican party.

    That is one where immigration 0 is serious policy, and immigration of 1 guy is “open borders.” In that worldview there is no difference between 1 and “what will you do with 300 million on your doorstep!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. One has to factor into the equation the fact that the media is even worse than usual on this issue. Fox etc. just demagogue the issue and use it to push other things. The MSM constantly lies and misleads about the issue and presents hearttugging tales without revealing any of the downsides.

    Point out to those who said Yes that any form of legalization would – for instance – give even more power inside the U.S. to the Mex. govt and see what they say. Point out to them that the Dems and far-left would fight against any “tough” provisions in a legalization law and see what they say. Point out to them that all those new legal workers would be competition for U.S. workers and see what they say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. jmc says:

    So in other words the majority of people believe that those who played by the rules, went through the legal immigration process often at great financial and family cost are nothing more than chumps and fools?

    There has always been a route to legal residency. Return home and get in line with everyone else. But the awkward fact is that the vast majority of illegals would never qualify for legal immigration because they are mostly ill educated peasants. Or that if immigration laws were actually enforced that a lot of middle class people would lose their gardeners, nannies and house cleaners. Because that where most of the illegals are employed. At least in California. Not in the fields but in domestic service and the equivalent areas of the service industries.

    It always amuses me to hear affluent middle class folk in California spout off on this particular subject. Utterly oblivious to their hypocrisy and to the fact that their very comfortable life style when it came to domestic servants was much closer to the position of the white South African middle class than their Canadian or Australian middle class equivalents.

    Who is going to do the laundry, wash the dishes or clean the pool if all the Mexicans (which is where 75% of them are from) are sent home? Because that’s what it really is all about. Cheap, socially guilt free, politically weak labor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. john personna says:

    @jmc:

    Who is going to do the laundry, wash the dishes or clean the pool if all the Mexicans (which is where 75% of them are from) are sent home? Because that’s what it really is all about. Cheap, socially guilt free, politically weak labor.

    it is not at all a non-sequitor to note that my washing machine will do my laundry and my dishwasher will clean my dishes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Whitfield says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: We need to make sure that violent criminals and drug dealers who are here illegally are sent back immediately. We need to secure the borders and only let those in who are highly educated and have no police records.
    The illegal immigrants in this country have always sought to work hard, obey the law, and improve their education. They want to be self sufficient and not depend on government hand outs. Their children usually do very well in school and are well behaved. They have a strong, traditional family structure and have a strong religious life. That seems enough for me to keep them here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. DB Cooper says:

    Wow, this is so hard to wrap your mind around. In about 1970, the US middle class and poor had seen their standard of living improve for over 30 years. Then two things happened: first trade policy was overhauled to allow companies to shut down their US plants and move offshore. Second, immigration policy was overhauled and the quotas went up by more than 400%, or 800% if you include illegal immigration.

    This was done to allow businesses and corporations to decrease their labor costs. Because when the supply of labor goes up, the price of labor(salaries) goes down. In short, these policies were designed to help a few people make a whole lot of money at the expense of the American worker, and boy did it work! Since then, the average American has seen their wages decrease by over 50% (in real dollars, not nominal dollars) The middle class has been ground into dust after a generation between the hammer of wholesale outsourcing, and the anvil of enormous immigration quotas.

    Now, we have wages that are not half of what they were a generation ago, and real unemployment of almost 20%. I find it amazing that given the sorry state of the American worker, who has not a fraction of the wealth and opportunity that his father and mother had, that the plutocratic elite media and political class are not too ashamed of selling out their nation to try to increase immigration yet again. However, I am even more amazed that so many people are prepared to let them. It’s hard to believe that so many are willing to vote against their own interests, and literally vote themselves into poverty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Californian says:

    @DB Cooper: You are exactly right. Most of so-called “left” has completely betrayed those in the lower half of the income scale with their legalize every illegal (except maybe the few crooks) mantra. Why? Some are simply ignorant and don’t understand the laws of supply & demand. Others posiitively refuse to believe that they can’t undo those laws of supply & demand through wishful thinking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. DB Cooper says:

    @Californian: I’m sure most people have no idea how high immigration quotas have destroyed their living standards. An interesting fact is that in 1994, a group of democratic legislators formed the US commission on immigration reform. The chair was a black congress woman from Texas. The commission recommended that quotas be decreased because of the negative effect they had on poor and middle class Americans. Well, even though they were democrats, Clinton ignored them, and now quotas have quadrupled. I guess the commission’s prediction was correct, but that’s small comfort. I think that was the exact moment that the DNC abandoned the working American.

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