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New Polling: Conventional Wisdom Once Again Wrong on Immigration

by Pili Tobar on 06/08/2012 at 1:27pm

Two new polls show that both Latinos and non-Latinos continue to embrace common sense, federal immigration reform and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  While some politicians continue to hide from the issue, suggest tentative baby steps forward, or hope the states will step in, the American people are unequivocal: undocumented immigrants should be put on a path to citizenship.

New York Times/CBS: Support for Legalization Greater Than Support for Arizona Law:  New polling from the New York Times/CBS looks into attitudes on several immigration issues, including support for Arizona’s “show me your papers” anti-immigration law as well as comprehensive immigration reform.  The poll confirms what we already know – that the public is frustrated with the broken immigration system and supports action over the status quo.

However, while majorities of Americans favor Arizona’s SB 1070 “show me your papers” law, a larger majority supports comprehensive immigration reform and a federal solution over Arizona’s hardline approach.  As the New York Times recaps about the new polling, “One-third of Americans said the part of the Arizona law allowing the police to question people about their immigration status ‘goes too far’ and half said it was ‘about right.’”

Yet as the CBS article accompanying the polling also explains, “As to what Americans think should happen to undocumented immigrants who are currently working in the U.S., 43 percent think they should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship, 21 percent think they should be allowed only as guest workers, and 32 percent think they should required to leave the country.  These percentages have been generally consistent for the past three years.”  This means that a combined 64 percent of respondents favor of some form of legalization – with most supporting a path to citizenship.

Latino Decisions: Both Latinos and Non-Latinos Favor DREAM Act with Citizenship over Senator Rubio’s “DREAM Lite” Alternative: New polling from Latino Decisions compares support among Latinos and non-Latinos for the DREAM Act-lite bill Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) plans to introduce, to support for the traditional DREAM Act introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).  Although the traditional DREAM Act was originally written and championed by a bipartisan array of Senators, Senator Rubio has said that his Republican colleagues now find the bill’s pathway to citizenship unacceptable, which is why he has promised to introduce a bill that passes the “Kris Kobach test.”

However, Rubio and his Republican colleagues are clearly out of step with a majority of Latinos and a majority of Americans on this issue.  As Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions writes of the findings:

Overall, our survey found 87% of Latinos strongly or somewhat supported the Durbin version of the DREAM Act, compared to just 10% who were strongly or somewhat opposed.  In contrast, we find a split on the Rubio version of DREAM with 49% of Latinos in support and 46% opposed.  Among non-Latinos, a similar pattern emerges, though support for the DREAM Act is lower than among Latinos.  When faced with the Durbin version of the DREAM Act 62% of non-Latinos were in support and 33% were opposed.  On the Rubio version non-Latinos were split with 47% in favor and 44% against.  So after hearing each of these two versions of the DREAM Act on their own, we asked respondents to compare the two versions and tell us which, if any they preferred more.  Among Latinos, 82% said they preferred the Durbin DREAM Act to only 13% who preferred the Rubio DREAM Act.  Likewise, non-Latinos sided with the original version of the bill over the newer alternative that is being discussed by a margin of 61% to 27%.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director here at America’s Voice Education Fund:

When it comes to immigration, the public is ahead of many politicians on the issue.  They strongly support federal action to legalize undocumented immigrants—including a path to citizenship.  Americans, Latinos and non-Latinos alike, also say that DREAM-eligible young people should be able to become citizens of the only country they know as home.  While Americans are frustrated with inaction in Washington, they know the real solution is common sense, federal immigration reform.  It’s time our elected officials do their jobs.

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