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Rep. Lamar Smith, leader of the Congressional Mass Deportation Caucus and self-appointed leading pundit, recently sent a “Dear Colleague” letter pushing cherry-picked polling information to further his agenda. He’s done that before, and we’ve sliced and diced Smith’s punditry. It’s the same old anti-immigrant message from Smith, who won’t be satisfied until all 11 million undocument immigrants have been forced out of the country.
This time, Smith’s writings have been debunked by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration. We’re posting it in its entirety:
You may have recently received a Dear Colleague indicating that the American people “put border control ahead of amnesty by 2-1 margin.” The Dear Colleague, however, fails to mention the overwhelming support for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) by the American people. Indeed, the Rasmussen telephone survey cited by the Dear Colleague did not even present this question to survey respondents.
In case there are any questions, I think it’s important to share the slate of public opinion polls that have consistently shown that strong majorities of American voters support CIR legislation, including a process that allows undocumented immigrants to earn legal immigration status. A recent May 2011 poll by the Pew Research Center, for example, found that by a 72% to 24% margin, American voters support CIR legislation, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. Such findings are mirrored in major national and regional polls conducted within the last few years:
— A December 2010 Boise State University Public Policy Center poll found that 73% of Idaho residents supported laws “to allow illegal immigrants to stay in this country permanently.”
— An August 2010 Fox News poll found that more than two-thirds (68%) of voters, including 63% of surveyed Republicans, favor allowing undocumented immigrants who pay taxes and obey the law to stay in the country.
— An August 2010 Chicago Tribune poll found that 87% of respondents “believed that some sort of legal status should be offered to the nearly 11 million people in the country illegally, provided that the immigrants aren’t dangerous felons, that they learn English and that they pay fines and back taxes.”
— A May 2010 NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo poll found that 65% of voters favor “allowing undocumented immigrants who are already in the country to pay a fine, learn English, and go back to the line for the opportunity to become American citizens.”
— An April 2009 Washington Post/ABC News Poll found that 61% of respondents support giving undocumented immigrants the right to live in the U.S. “if they pay a fine and meet other requirements.”
According to these and many other polls, the vast majority of Americans want an immigration solution that provides a pragmatic approach to dealing with undocumented immigrants, including by providing a process for obtaining legal immigration status.