President Obama’s proposal to introduce immigration reform has found great support among his voters, according to a nationwide poll released last Friday. The poll results, reported on by The Huffington Post, indicate that more than half of the 1,003 individuals surveyed support a pathway to U.S. citizenship. A majority also reported that they do not view this process as an “amnesty,” a term that has been used derisively to derail efforts toward immigration reform.
These results bolster the idea that such a bill could be politically viable. While the issue of citizenship has become a sticking point, many reform advocates are hopeful that strong national support will propel legislation forward. America’s Voice Education Fund, SEIU, and the National Immigration Forum sponsored the poll.
The findings of this poll were roughly consistent with other surveys that have found majority support for a pathway to citizenship. For example, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week confirmed that 52 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship, while 46 percent oppose it.
In contrast, many Republicans argue that undocumented immigrants should be given legal status without any path to obtaining U.S. citizenship. If such legislation were to pass, many applicants would either be unable to become U.S. citizens or be forced to wait long periods before becoming eligible to apply. Most Democrats advocate for a long road to citizenship with additional requirements such as the payment of fines and back taxes.
Despite these differences, the poll results could convince Republicans that voting for immigration reform is not political suicide. It discovered that 53 percent of those who responded are more likely to vote for their member of congress if they supported reform, versus only 8 percent who stated that it would make them less likely.
Immigration reform advocates were able to lay out key priorities for reform through the poll data. Requiring undocumented immigrants to pay taxes was a high priority to the largest percentage of respondents–89 percent–while only 33 percent stated that giving legal status, but not citizenship, to undocumented immigrants was a top goal. A strong majority of Americans nationwide believed reform should have the following, additional components:
Despite political similarities and the overwhelming support of the proposal by the public, formulating reform is not expected to be easy. Consequently, it is now more critical than ever for reform supporters to engage in a genuine bipartisan effort to solidify support nationwide. These numbers can be extremely influential when legislators decide how they want to vote on the President’s bill. If you support immigration reform, let your voice be heard.