Friday, February 14, 2014

Majority of Americans Support Immigration Reform

There is broad support for a variety of proposed immigration reform measures being considered by Congress. Americans overwhelmingly acknowledge the need to reform the country’s current broken immigration system. Proposals include enforcement measures, new pathways to legal status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and further opportunities for workers in key industries to legally immigrate to the United States. Key findings are as follows:

Americans support every major immigration reform proposal on the table. Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of a variety of proposed reform measures, including implementing a new entry and exit visa tracking system (86% support/11% oppose), requiring employers to electronically verify the legal status of job-seekers (82%/16%), and giving the Department of Homeland Security more resources to secure the border (78%/21%). Each of these three proposals receives the support of at least three-quarters of voters from both parties. Clear majorities also support proposals such as a merit-based visa system for future legal immigrants (78% support/18% oppose), a start-up visa program for foreign entrepreneurs (73%/22%), allowing both more legal immigrants with advanced skills in science or technology (70%/28%) and allowing more lower-skilled legal immigrants as guest workers in industries with labor shortages (64%/33%).
Voters agree that undocumented immigrants should have the opportunity to come out of the shadows and remain in the country legally – whether it’s described as pathway to “citizenship” or to “legal status.” Six in ten Americans support a “pathway to citizenship” for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants presently in the country (63% support/33% oppose). Support is similar for a “pathway to legal status” for undocumented immigrants (58%/37%). Regardless of how it is described, majorities across partisan lines – including Republicans (51% support “citizenship” and 56% support “legal status) – support these proposals. Meanwhile, voters are near-unanimous (88% support/11% oppose) in their support to creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came here as children as long as they meet certain criteria. This measure earns the support of 90% of Democrats, 90% of Independents and 81% of Republicans.
Voters roundly reject the immigration status quo. Americans overwhelmingly call for new reforms (79% adopt new reforms/15% leave the system as is) over leaving the current broken immigration system as is.
There is clear political opportunity for members of Congress who back immigration reform. Americans are far more inclined to vote for incumbents who support immigration reform (39% more likely/9% less likely). This is true among Republican voters (41% more likely/11% less likely), Democrats (43% more/7% less), and Independents (34% more/11% less) alike.

Americans will feel disappointment if Congress does not take this opportunity to reform the nation’s immigration laws. Roughly three in four voters (74% disappointed/25% not disappointed) will be disappointed if Congress does not act on any proposals currently being considered and fails to pass any new laws for the country’s immigration system.

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