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In-Depth Polling Shows that Republicans Are Pandering to 19% of the American Public on Immigration

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77% Americans support path to citizenship or legal status; 19% support deportation

The Republican Party’s anti-immigrant obsession is driving the GOP in a dangerous direction.  Not only is the Party set to be blamed for shutting down the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but the DHS funding battle is exposing rifts within the GOP, demolishing their pledge to govern responsibly.  To make matters worse, they are reinforcing their anti-Latino, anti-immigrant reputation.

As if that weren’t enough, the results of a massive public opinion study reveals that the GOP current posture aligns with only 19% of the public.

Yesterday, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a highly-regarded polling organization, released the results of a huge sample of American public opinion.  PRRI’s American Values Atlas, which features the results from more than 40,000 phone interviews, finds broad support across the country for immigration reform including a path to citizenship, and minimal support for the GOP’s dominant deportation-focused immigration approach. The full sample finds:

  • Three-of-four Americans oppose Republicans’ dominant deportation-focused approach: A combined 77% of the country supports either a path to citizenship (60%) or permanent legal residence short of citizenship (17%) for undocumented immigrants, while only 19% want to “identify and deport” immigrants “who are currently living in the U.S. illegally.”
  • Citizenship is favored over deportation in each and every state. The massive sample size allows for a detailed breakdown by state on each question.  Every single state in the country favors citizenship over deportation – see this interactive map for a detailed, state-by-state breakdown.  The state with the closest margin between citizenship and deportation is Wyoming, but even there, citizenship trumps deportation by a 52-38% margin.
  • Americans view immigrants as strengthening, not burdening, the country.  When asked the following question: “Which statement comes closest to your views: immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents, or immigrants today are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing, and health care?” Americans believe immigrants strengthen the nation by a 55-36% margin.

As PRRI CEO Dr. Robert Jones writes in The Atlantic of the findings:

The immigration debate is a clear example of a terrain on which the pitched partisan battles waged by politicians have obscured the broad agreements of their constituents.

Lifting up the PRRI poll today, the Washington Post editorial board sums up the state of play of the immigration debate and the stakes for the GOP:

Increasingly, Republicans who use illegal immigration as a wedge issue are at odds not just with the Obama administration, Democrats and Hispanics; they are also at odds with majorities of Americans in every region of the nation.  That’s a recipe for political marginalization.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

On immigration policy, the nativist tail is wagging the GOP dog.  The more they stay this course, the more they create the conditions for a wave election in 2016.