No, This is Not a Typo: Fox Captures American Public’s Nuanced Views While CNN Poses False Choice that Obscures Majority Support for Comprehensive Reform
Washington, DC – A new poll from Fox News finds that 68 percent of voters, including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, say efforts to secure the border should be combined with reform of federal immigration laws by Congress. What do voters mean by reform of federal immigration laws? Sixty-eight percent “favor allowing illegal immigrants who pay taxes and obey the law to stay in the United States.”
In short, voters want a “both/and” approach to immigration reform, which is the essence of comprehensive immigration reform.
As the Fox News analysis puts it: “While more voters think the government should secure the border first (21 percent) than pass new immigration laws (7 percent), most — 68 percent — say both should be done at the same time. That includes majorities of Democrats (72 percent), independents (67 percent) and Republicans (65 percent).” The Fox poll also found that “a 61 percent majority of voters think it is ‘impossible to seal the border’ so there will always be illegal immigrants…. About two-thirds of voters (68 percent) favor allowing illegal immigrants who pay taxes and obey the law to stay in the United States, little changed from 67 percent who favored doing so in 2007.”
Over at CNN, polls from May and July present an “either/or” choice: “What should be the main focus of the U.S. government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration — developing a plan that would allow illegal immigrants who have jobs to become legal U.S. residents, or developing a plan for stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. and for deporting those already here?” Given this wording, 42 percent favor a path to legal status and 57 percent favor stopping the flow of illegal immigrants, as if voters can only have one or the other. Buried deeper is the fact that 81 percent of those surveyed favor “creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the United States for a number of years to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country permanently if they had a job and paid back taxes.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “When given the option to have both border security and a path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants settled in America, voters overwhelmingly embrace that approach. This is not only the most popular choice, it is the most workable solution to the problem of illegal immigration. On the other hand, when voters are presented with a false choice between border security or a path to legal status, they are confused and divided. Which of course is why those watching Fox should pay more attention to the Fox immigration poll than to the simplistic enforcement-only rhetoric coming from Republican politicians.”
The Fox result is not an outlier. Recent polling conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies for America’s Voice found that while a majority of poll respondents supported the Arizona ‘papers please’ immigration law, these same respondents showed more intense support for comprehensive reform proposals and actually favored comprehensive reform by a greater margin than opponents of the Arizona law. A whopping 84% of those who voiced support for the Arizona law also support comprehensive immigration reform. The fact is voters favor action but strongly favor comprehensive reform that combines smart enforcement with legal status for those already here. Lake’s findings were echoed in other surveys.
According to Sharry, “As we head into a campaign season in which immigration is bound to be a hot topic, pollsters, politicians, and parties alike would be wise to not conflate voters’ frustration over illegal immigration with opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. A strong and consistent majority support comprehensive immigration reform that will strengthen border security, crack down on employers who violate labor and immigration laws, and make sure that immigrants already in the U.S. illegally pass background checks, pay their full and fair share of taxes, and study English as a way to work toward citizenship. In fact, most voters are dying for their leaders to step up and solve this problem once and for all. It’s time for Republicans to stop the mindless presentation of false choices. It’s time for Democrats to lean into this issue and do so with conviction. It’s time for Washington do the popular thing, which in this case, happens to be the right thing.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.