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The American People Have Decided on DREAMer Protection Announcement. When Will Mitt?

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As Romney Ducks Question, New Polls Show Broad Support for President Obama’s Action

New polling documents that the general public, including Latino voters and independent voters, are broadly supportive of President Obama’s bold decision to protect hundreds of thousands of DREAM Act-eligible young people from deportation.  Yet while the American public has decided and voiced its support, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continues to avoid the question.  Both after the President’s announcement last Friday and on “Face the Nation” on CBS News this past Sunday, Mitt Romney was asked direct questions and refused to provide direct answers as to whether he would maintain or rescind President Obama’s executive action to protect hundreds of thousands of DREAMers.

Below is a recap of recent polling on the President’s announcement, documenting that unlike Mitt Romney, the public has a clear – and favorable – position on protecting DREAMers:

  • Bloomberg Polling Finds Public Supports DREAMer Protections By 2:1 Margin: Selzer & Co. conducted a poll of likely voters for Bloomberg News that found that by a 64-30% margin, voters support President Obama’s new policy that says DREAMers will be eligible for deferred action and work permits.  Likely independent voters support the policy by a 66-26% margin.  Among self-identified Democrats, 86% support the policy, while Republicans oppose it 56%-36%.
  • New Jersey Voters Overwhelmingly Support Provisions of the DREAM Act: Rutgers-Eagleton conducted a recent poll of New Jersey residents to gauge support for the DREAM Act, finding overwhelming, 80% support.  After hearing details about the DREAM Act, about 40% of New Jersey residents said they “strongly” supported the bill, and another 40% said they supported it “somewhat.” Ten percent said they were somewhat opposed to the bill, and only 8% said they were strongly opposed.  As Politicker NJ wrote in light of the poll and the President’s announcement on DREAMer protections, “While the poll was taken two weeks before Obama’s announcement, the findings suggest that his decision is likely to be popular in New Jersey.”
  • Latino Voters Supportive of Policy, More Enthusiastic About Obama After Announcement: New polling from Latino Decisions found that Latino voters in five battleground states broadly favor the policy change and are more enthusiastic about supporting the President because of this bold action.  As Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions wrote in his analysis of the poll findings, “When asked how they felt about Obama’s action that would halt deportations and provide work permits to undocumented immigrant youth who attend college or serve in the military, 49% of Latino voters said it would make them more enthusiastic about Obama, compared to 14% who were less enthusiastic, a net enthusiasm advantage of +35 points.”
  • Latino Voters Less Likely to Support Romney After Learning of His Immigration Stance:  The Latino Decisions polling also found that Mitt Romney’s immigration policies and rhetoric have alienated Latino voters.  As Barreto wrote, “In contrast to these recent statements by Obama, the survey also tested enthusiasm towards policy statements by Mitt Romney on immigration. Respondents were asked whether Romney’s statements calling on undocumented immigrants to self-deport back to their ‘home’ countries, and to make immigration laws in Arizona a model for the nation, made them more or less enthusiastic about Romney. Among Latino registered voters in five key battleground states, 10% said the Romney statements made them more enthusiastic, while 59% said the statements made them less enthusiastic about Romney, a net enthusiasm deficit of -49 points.”
  • Gallup Finds American Public More Positive on Immigration:  Between June 7 and 10, Gallup conducted a poll of adults nationwide that found that the American public is increasingly moving away from hardline immigration positions.  Asked whether immigration was, on the whole, a good thing or a bad thing for the United States, 66% of Americans said it was a good thing, with 29% saying it was generally bad.  These numbers stand in stark contrast to the 52% of Americans in 2002 who said immigration was a good thing and the 42% who said it was bad.  Additionally, a plurality of Americans say the priority of U.S. immigration policy should be dealing with those immigrants who are already here—not waiting until the border is secured. When asked to choose what the “main focus of the U.S. government should be in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration,” 55% said that the priority should be dealing with those immigrants who are already here, while 41% said that securing the border needed to be taken care of first.  This is a reversal from past Gallup polling in 2010 and 2011; in 2011, 55% of Americans believed that securing the border ought to be the first priority, while only 43% believed it was more urgent to deal with those immigrants already here.  While most people aren’t surprised to hear that a majority of Latino voters support comprehensive immigration reform, the views of the general public are often completely misunderstood.  As we’ve noted previously, polls that offer three options (including the both/and option) typically show minority support for the hardline position.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The American people realize that the President’s action is the right thing to do, yet Mitt Romney’s silence is deafening.  Romney is clearly caught between a nativist rock and a demographic hard place.  Given his upcoming speech at the National Association of Latino Appointed and Elected Officials conference this Thursday, we will be watching to see if Romney continues to avoid the issue, continues his hard line stance or pulls out his etch-a-sketch.  We can hardly wait.”

America’s Voice – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.