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Poll of 1,000 Likely Voters Nationwide

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Poll of 1,000 Likely Voters Nationwide

Benenson Strategy Group


The Economic Situation has Increased the Sense of Urgency Surrounding Immigration Reform

  • Support for comprehensive immigration reform has increased since the 2008 elections and nearly 3 in 4 (72%) support Congress tackling immigration reform this year.
  • When asked if the poor economy makes it not the time to tackle immigration reform vs. more crucial than ever that we act on immigration, voters want action on immigration, by a resounding 57% to 39% margin

Voters Want Action on Immigration and Think it Should be Tackled Alongside Economic Recovery

  • Voters are 53% net more favorable toward a Member of Congress who says we can address the economy and immigration at the same time, while they are only 28% net more favorable toward a Congressional Member who says we should deal with the now and immigration may have to wait – a 25% advantage for acting now.
  • By a 59% to 39% margin, voters say that Congress can handle multiple issues at the same time rather than agreeing that Congress’ plate is too full with the economy and health care and that immigration reform should wait.
  • More than 8 in 10 view illegal immigration as a serious problem (up 3% from the same question in a post-2008 election poll) and 56% consider it a high priority issue for Congress to address (with another 29% reporting it is a medium priority).

Voters Reject “They’re Taking our Jobs” Arguments in Favor of Practical Immigration Reform and Legalization

  • By 71% to 26%, voters maintain that we’re better off if the undocumented population becomes legal taxpayers than if they leave the nation because they are taking jobs
  • This pro-legalization argument has gained 4% since the November.

Democrats are Trusted, and Especially President Obama, More than Republicans on Immigration.

  • Democrats in Congress have a 7% advantage over Republicans in Congress on whose approach to immigration reform reflects voters’ views (42%-35% margin)
  • President Obama’s approach has an 11% advantage over congressional Republicans’ approach (45%-34%)

The Public Broadly Favors Comprehensive Reform Over Other Alternatives

  • Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) voters argue that the 12 million in the U.S. who are undocumented should be required to register, meet conditions, and eventually be allowed to apply for citizenship, similar to the 67% who maintained the same position in a November 2008 poll.
    • Even 62% of Republicans report that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship.
    • The other 30% of voters are divided between forcing the 12 million illegal immigrants to leave the country (20%) and allowing them to stay temporarily (10%).
  • When given the choice between a comprehensive approach and one that secures the border, stops taxpayer benefits, and forces those who broke our laws by entering illegally to leave, 67% prefer comprehensive reform while 31% prefer the approach that forces the 12 million remaining illegal immigrants to leave,
    • This is a 10 point gain in support for the comprehensive approach since we asked this question in November 2008.
    • More than 6 in 10 voters in all major demographic subgroups (including all political parties) prefer the comprehensive approach over increased enforcement only.
  • 82% of voters said the following statement made them more likely to support congressional action on immigration reform: Currently, law-abiding employers are undercut by bad-actor competitors who underpay workers without papers and pay them off the books in order to win business. Under immigration reform, all workers will be legal and unscrupulous employers who try to gain an advantage by violating immigration, labor and tax laws will be penalized severely, creating a level playing field for honest employers and all workers.

Methodology: Conducted May 9 – May 12, 2009, featuring 1,000 interviews with voters nationwide about immigration reform and the economy.