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Sen. Lindsey Graham Argues for Full Citizenship and Integration of Immigrants

by Pili Tobar on 12/05/2012 at 5:34pm

In an interview with CQ yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reiterated his support for comprehensive immigration reform and even “suggested that he could support citizenship…with preconditions, including an emphasis on granting citizenship first to immigrants who are currently waiting to receive it,” writes CQ reporter, John Gramlich.  Said Graham, “I don’t like the European model of having millions of people in our country who can’t assimilate. It’s just not good for the culture. It’s just not good policy.”

According to new polling analysis by America’s Voice Education Fund, voters agree.

Graham’s comments come in the wake of the political drubbing that Republicans received from Latino voters in last month’s election.  After much analysis and chatter from the political punditry, the new emerging consensus on immigration reform is that Democrats want it and Republicans need it.

Numerous recent polls reveal that voters in general–including but not limited to Latinos–don’t see citizenship for undocumented immigrants as controversial, but common-sense.  While enforcement is important, it’s also already happening.  The missing piece is a program for citizenship and integration.

Among the highlights:

  • Immigration is Personal for Latinos: An ImpreMedia-Latino Decisions election eve poll found that 60 percent of all Latino voters know someone who is undocumented, and 25 percent know someone who is either facing deportation or has been deported.
  • Voters Show Overwhelming Support for Legal Status: According to a 2012 network exit poll, 65% of Americans said that they believe undocumented immigrants should be “offered a chance to apply for legal status.”
  • Majority of Americans Support a Pathway to Citizenship: A November 2012 post-election poll conducted by ABC News/Washington Post asked the question: Do you support or oppose a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants? Overall, 57% support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while 39% are opposed.
  • When given a choice, voters view citizenship is the preferred option: In two New York Times/CBS polls, 64% of Americans supported legalization in February and again in June 2012.  Less than a third selected deportation.  In both polls, two-thirds of those who supported legalization preferred full citizenship rather than temporary status.

For Latino voters, the question of offering undocumented immigrants full citizenship or some sort of lesser status is fundamental.  As pollster Gary Segura recently wrote:

Latinos voters are simply not going to be happy with an outcome that keeps Latino immigrants on the margins of society. And if the GOP is identified as the key obstacle stopping a path to citizenship for Latino immigrants, the party will have accomplished little towards Sean Hannity’s goal of getting the issue behind them.

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

At its heart, the immigration reform debate isn’t about a fence, it is about family.  The upcoming immigration fight will be fought by strong individuals and strong families who believe that this country is the greatest nation in the world, which can best live up to its promise by changing its immigration policy and creating a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million hardworking immigrants who already consider themselves Americans. That’s the position supported by all voters, not just Latinos.

View the new America’s Voice Education Fund polling analysis here: http://act.americasvoiceonline.org/pollingforcitizenship  

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