Poll: Majority Supports Path To Citizenship For Illegal Immigrants
A new Quinnipiac poll shows that a majority of Americans support allowing people living in the country illegally to stay and eventually become citizens as part of a new comprehensive immigration reform plan:
Illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and eventually apply for citizenship, 59 percent of voters say, while 11 percent say they should be allowed to stay, but not apply for citizenship, and 25 percent say they should be required to leave the U.S.
Even among Republicans, the path to citizenship gets the support of a plurality of 47%, while deportation (which is never going to happen) has 36% support. The position that Republicans such as Marco Rubio and Rand Paul seem to be advocating, legal status with no chance of becoming citizens, gets a mere 10% support from Republicans polled. As Greg Sargent points out, this presents a dilemma for Congressional Republicans who generally oppose a path to citizenship:
This tells us something very important about the immigration debate. When all three positions are polled — and, in truth, the three options do represent the actual policy choice at the heart of the debate — the concocted “middle ground” position preferred by many GOP officials doesn’t really make anybody happy. It doesn’t even make Republicans happy. Only 10 percent of them support it.
The problem is that Republicans know that they must be seen embracing some sort of immigration reform. Yet the base’s opposition to reform is such that not even the proposal to keep undocumented immigrants in a kind of sub-citizenship legal category is enough to get them to support it. And so, ultimately, Republicans are going to have to decide: Who is calling the shots here, the sizable chunk of Republican voters who do support citizenship, or the hard core anti-immigration reform-at-all-costs base?
Second class citizenship is not the answer to the GOP dilemma here. Ultimately, Republicans either must bravely cross the path-to-citizenship Rubicon and accept the consequences from the right, or we’re not getting reform.
In the end, I am beginning to doubt that we’ll see any real immigration reform before the 2014 midterms. This is a change from my initial thoughts after the 2012 election when it seemed as though the GOP was coming around to see reality on this issue. With the exception of people like Rubio and, to some extent, Paul, however, the base of the GOP doesn’t appear to be moving off its hardline stance. As long as that continues to be the case, it’s unlikely that the GOP will change on this issue in sufficient numbers to allow something to make it through Congress. What that means for the 2014 elections is something we’ll just have to wait and see.