Beyond the Poll Numbers

Nationwide support for comprehensive immigration reform continues to grow.
Nationwide support for comprehensive immigration reform continues to grow.

A poll last month by the Public Religion Research Institute was reported on by Kevin Fung right before Thanksgiving. I wanted to explore the polls results in a little more depth.

The headline reports were that nearly two-out-of-three Americans support a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. Equally important is that the “Deport Them All” segment of voters has shrunk to only 18%. This means that conservative bumper-sticker slogans like “Self-Deportation” and “What Part of Illegal Don’t You Understand” appeal to fewer than one-in-five Americans.

The poll also has some bad news for Republican legislative strategy in Congress. Republicans in the House of Representatives are reportedly crafting a proposal that would grant the undocumented legal status, but would block them from applying for citizenship. Only 14% of Americans favor that proposal. What is clear from the survey is that far from wanting a permanent immigrant underclass, Americans want the undocumented to move quickly towards assuming the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. In fact, 68% thought that the thirteen year wait for citizenship in the bipartisan Senate Immigration Reform bill was too long.

The fact is that across racial, religious, and even political lines, Americans want real reform and they want it now. Instead of delivering a tepid reform in the House, John Boehner should press forward with the sort of far reaching reform voters favor.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.