Poll shows broad support for immigration reform among voters
A majority of voters support comprehensive immigration reform that includes legalization measures as well as border security, according to a poll released today. The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the pro-reform group America’s Voice between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 and surveyed 1,200 likely voters in last week’s midterm elections. Most said they picked candidates in the midterms based on economic issues; pollsters said the prioritization of the economy allowed for high gains among candidates who advocate enforcement-only immigration reform despite the public’s overall policy preferences on immigration.
“Americans are practical on immigration issues,” David Mermin, a partner at Lake Research Partners, said in a press release. “Americans support comprehensive immigration reform as a practical solution, even among a cranky electorate this year. Republican leaders thinking they have a mandate to pursue enforcement-only approaches are really mistaken.”
In the poll, interestingly, most members of both parties said they supported comprehensive immigration reform — even before they were given a description of what it would entail. After a description, support rose even higher: 72 percent of Republicans said they strongly supported it, versus 68 percent of Democrats.
Most people in both parties said border security should be tackled at the same time as other immigration issues and that deporting all of the illegal immigrants in the country would be unrealistic.
Of course, those views are different from the ones held by most of the Republicans voted into office last Tuesday. The next session’s House GOP leaders on immigration issues, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Steve King (R-Iowa), have advocated enforcement-first approaches to immigration, and many other Republicans in the House and Senate claim nothing can be done on immigration until the border becomes more secure.
Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, a group that advocates stricter immigration enforcement, claimed in its post-election analysis that the election results proved widespread support for enforcement-first immigration efforts and “opposition to the Obama Administration’s version of ‘comprehensive’ immigration reform.” In the exit poll results the group released last week, most voters agreed when asked if “President Obama has not been aggressive enough in enforcing immigration laws.”
America’s Voice claims its results indicate that most people support comprehensive immigration reform — even under the Democratic definition — but voted based on economic issues instead. Very few people polled from either party — 3 percent of both Democrats and Republicans, and just 1 percent of independents — said immigration was the most important issue they considered when choosing a candidate.
“The American people are out in front of the politicians on this issue,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said in a press release. “There’s a vocal and visible anti-immigrant minority that makes some politicians believe they speak for the majority. As this polling makes clear, they don’t.”