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Chuck Grassley Again Misrepresents Public Opinion on Immigration Reform


Even Polls Senator Grassley Cites Show that Public Consistently Backs Immigration Reform with Path to Citizenship

On the Senate floor today, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) once again misrepresented public opinion on immigration reform – so once again, we’re compelled to correct the record.  Grassley highlighted selective results from three polls as “proof” that the American people want Congress to delay a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants even further.  Senator John McCain (R-AZ) quickly took to the floor to point out that Grassley’s analysis contradicts the findings of scores of other opinion polls, which show clear majority support for passing a path to citizenship AND strengthening the border, working on both at the same time.

As Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice said:

Americans can walk and chew gum at the same time, so they believe our government should be able to do multiple things at once too.  We can strengthen our borders and hold employers accountable for hiring off the books at the same time we create a path to citizenship for immigrants without papers.  The fact is, we won’t have control over immigration and integrity in the system until we do it all.  The American people are ready for reform, and they are ready to move forward whether Senator Grassley believes it or not.

McCain offered to introduce into the record dozens of other polls that rebut Senator Grassley’s assessment.  In fact there are scores, if not hundreds, of polls conducted by numerous reputable polling outfits–nationwide and in conservative states—that prove Americans are firmly supportive of moving forward on all the elements (see just some of these polls here).

All told, they would add up to hundreds of pages—possibly more than a 1,000—and we all know that’s a lot for some senators to have to read.  So we’ll make it easy for them and highlight just one.  A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 83% of Americans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who meet key requirements.  When asked if immigrants’ legal status should kick in “only after the border is secure,” or be allowed to move forward “while border security is still being strengthened” (the difference between Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) amendment and the current Senate immigration bill), 56% of supporters choose both at the same time.  Only 35% preferred the sequenced approach.

In fact, the very polls that Grassley selectively cites add more evidence to the mountain McCain could assemble.  For example, the Bloomberg poll Grassley mentioned actually shows support for the path to citizenship rising to 74% once voters learn about its requirements.  The Des Moines Register poll actually tested the Senate bill against a so-called “Obama” plan that de-emphasized enforcement.  In a choice between a “tough” and a “weak” plan it’s no surprise which ones voters would choose.  And again, Grassley cited a vaguely worded question from a Fox News poll without also admitting that two-thirds of Americans supported a path to citizenship in the very same poll.

As Sharry concluded:

On top of the existing border spending and progress on border security already achieved, the Senate immigration bill’s interior and border enforcement measures represent the largest increase in immigration enforcement in American history.   Senators who insist we need to delay the start of the path to citizenship until we do more are out of touch with reality.  The American people are ready for an immigration law that features a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  They know it is an essential part of immigration reform.  Unfortunately, some in Congress just haven’t caught up.