As politicians begin discussing immigration reform legislation for next year, one thing is crystal clear: citizenship is the solution. And according to a new national poll, a majority of the American people support it:
A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground poll finds that 62 percent of those surveyed support an immigration reform proposal that would allow illegal or undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship over a period of several years. Thirty-five percent oppose it.
The national poll, conducted last week, finds more Republicans — 49 percent — support a path to citizenship than oppose it — 45 percent. Democrats favor this approach 3-to-1, 74 percent to 24 percent. And independents back it by a 26-point margin, 61 percent to 35 percent.
The poll reveals significantly greater overall support, 77 percent, for an immigration law that allows the children of illegal or undocumented immigrants to earn the right to stay here permanently if they complete a college degree or serve in the military. Just 19 percent oppose this key element of the so-called DREAM Act.
To be clear, this isn’t new. The post-election poll from the Washington Post/ABC News showed support for citizenship, too. What’s different this time is that politicians, particularly Republicans, are finally starting to grasp it.
One reason for that attention is, of course, the drubbing they took from Latino voters on Election Day. As Gary Segura from Latino Decisions recently explained quite succinctly, the only acceptable solution for Latinos is a path to citizenship:
Over the last 18 months, impreMedia and Latino Decisions repeatedly polled Latino registered voters specifically about their preferences regarding changes in US immigration policy. Based on that poll and our more recent work, here are our observations regarding the “must haves” in any comprehensive reform.
Meaningful adjustment of status with a path to citizenship. Latino voters, indeed ALL voters, prefer a comprehensive reform plan that includes a path to citizenship. For non-Latinos, the preferred path is an “earned” citizenship, which likely includes provisions regarding back taxes and learning English. But the bottom line is that the creation of a permanent alien class, guest workers or another form of residency that never turns into full social membership, is a non-starter.
In our June 2011 poll, 75% of Latino registered voters wanted a comprehensive approach with a path to citizenship while only 14% preferred a “guest worker” approach.
The American people are on board with citizenship for the 11 million. It’s what Latino voters want and expect. Now, it’s up to President Obama and the Democrats to keep their promise and for Republicans to address the immigration issue the right way — and stop letting the anti-immigrants in their party lead them off a demographic cliff.