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Who Wants Immigration Reform With Citizenship for the 11 Million? Just About Everyone, It Seems

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Momentum keeps building on behalf of immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “From the President to conservative leaders to the American people themselves, the stampede towards broad immigration reform that will put 11 million new Americans on the road to citizenship is staggering – and that’s just in the past 24 hours.”

Among the key developments over just the past day include the following voices speaking out positively on behalf of real immigration reform:

  • President Obama – At a meeting with top progressive leaders yesterday, President Obama pledged to tackle immigration reform early in his second term, according to Huffington Post.  The President, “brought up immigration reform, unprompted, in his opening remarks — a stark difference from tense previous talks in which he’s been prodded by reform advocates to address the topic.  ‘I’ve been in a number of meetings with him on this topic, it’s been pretty rough, but this one, the passion, intensity, seriousness — I was pretty struck,’ the source said.  ‘If there’s one thing he was crystal clear he was going to get done in 2013 … it was immigration reform.  He was going to lean into it, he was sure Republicans were going to come to the table.  It was sort of what he’s said before, but with huge conviction.’”  The President is expected to reaffirm his commitment to immigration reform in his press conference today.
  • The American public – Latino and non-Latinos alike:  While Latino voters and others with a personal connection to the immigration debate are overwhelmingly in favor of immigration reform, the vast majority of all Americans are as well.  This comes through loud and clear in several new polls, as well as the 2012 network exit poll.  Looking forward, this means that immigration reform with a path to citizenship will be passionately supported by Latino voters AND supported by all Americans, who desire solutions to overcome the legislative stalemate of recent years.  Among the new poll findings include:
  • United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection: The poll found that 76% of respondents believe that our nation “should allow some or all of the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants to remain in the United States if they meet certain conditions of residency and good behavior.” National Journal writes in their accompanying poll recap that support for legalization is growing: “When pollsters asked the question in December 2011, 67 percent said that the government should permit such immigrants to stay.  The percentage of those who want all illegal immigrants deported has shrunken from 25 percent to 17 percent over that same period.”  The poll also found, “White men without college diplomas took the hardest line on deportation, but even among this group, almost two-thirds supported some sort of process to let illegal immigrants stay, and just 34 percent opted for full deportation.”
  • ABC News/Washington Post:  As the ABC News article accompanying the poll release notes, “Fifty-seven percent of Americans in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, with 39 percent opposed…In this survey, support for a path to citizenship peaks at 82 percent among Hispanics, 71 percent among Democrats and liberals alike and 69 percent among young adults, all key Obama groups.  Support’s at 68 percent among nonwhites overall, compared with 51 percent among non-Hispanic whites.”
  • Lake Research Partners/The Tarrance Group: A national Election Day poll of voters by the Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners and the Republican polling firm The Tarrance Group released yesterday found strong support for President Obama’s decision to stop deporting young immigrants who came to this country as children but are not legal residents.  A solid majority of voters support this policy (57%), including close to a majority (46%) who strongly support it, while only 26% are opposed.  While Democrats are the most likely to favor this policy (75%) a majority of Independents (60%) and a substantial number of Republicans (35%) also favor Obama’s decision.
  • Senator Orrin Hatch:  The longtime Republican Senator from Utah, who was an original sponsor of the DREAM Act before moving to the right on immigration in recent years, is again signaling openness to broad immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the undocumented.  When asked if he would be “willing to negotiate on a comprehensive bill that included a pathway to citizenship,” Senator Hatch told The Hill yesterday, “Everything ought to be on the table…There are a lot of very important legal considerations that have to be made, but I’ve always been empathetic towards resolving this problem one way or the other.”
  • Senator John McCain:  Similar to Senator Hatch, Senator McCain (R-AZ) seems to be re-embracing his past support for substantive immigration reform.  When asked by The Hill about his support for immigration reform with a path to citizenship, Senator McCain said, “There’s a sense of urgency in the Republican Party for obvious reasons, and I’m sure that everybody’s ready to deal.  But the specifics?  Too early…I think it’s very likely that we get it resolved, but there are going to be some tough negotiations.”  Additionally, Sen. McCain tweeted on Nov. 9th, “I agree with the calls for comprehensive immigration reform.”
  • Senator Rand Paul:  Arguably the leading elected representative of the Tea Party movement, Senator Paul (R-KY) told POLITICO he is working on an immigration plan, saying, “I want to show what conservatives would or can accept…If we assimilate those who are here, however they got here — don’t make it an easy path for citizenship.  There would be an eventual path, but we don’t make anybody tomorrow a citizen who came here illegally.  But if they’re willing to work, willing to pay taxes, I think we need to normalize those who are here.”
  • Evangelical leaders across political spectrum: As Talking Points Memo reports, “A large number of evangelical organizations, including 150 evangelical leaders, plan to play a major role in the push for immigration reform.  A coalition of evangelical organizations from across the political spectrum on Tuesday released letters to the White House and leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives, urging action on a comprehensive immigration reform bill within the first 92 days of the second Obama administration.  In the letters, members of a diverse group of evangelical organizations called the Evangelical Immigration Table asked to meet with President Obama and Congressional leaders in the first 92 days to discuss reform. The group called for a bipartisan bill that emphasizes the dignity of every person, guarantees secure national borders and ‘establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.’”  Leith Anderson, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals said, “This is the 21st century, and our immigration laws are from the 20th century.   It’s time to move on.”
  • The Wall Street Journal editorial page:  The leading conservative editorial page in the nation continued its crusade on behalf of sensible immigration reform with a new editorial that takes: “The GOP’s Presidential election defeat is opening up a debate in the party, with more than a few voices saying they are willing to rethink their views on immigration.  This is good news, which means it’s also a good moment to address some of the frequent claims from the anti-immigration right that simply aren’t true, especially about Hispanics.  One myth is that Latino voters simply aren’t worth pursuing because they’re automatic Democrats.  Yet Ronald Reagan was so eager to welcome Latinos to the GOP that he described them as “Republicans who don’t know it yet.”…Equally specious is the argument that Latino immigrants come here, often illegally, to “steal” jobs or to go on the dole. If illegal aliens are displacing natives in the labor force, why was there more immigration and less unemployment under President Bush?  And if foreign nationals are primarily attracted to our welfare state, how to explain the fact that low-income immigrants are less likely to be receiving public benefits than low-income natives?…The larger issue is about values and economics.  With rare historical exceptions like anti-Chinese nativism of the late 1800s, belief in the immigrant story of aspiration and the U.S. as a land of opportunity have been core American values.  A party that rejects those beliefs distances itself from American exceptionalism, if we can borrow a word popular in conservative circles.”

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