Update: Pew Adds to Mountain of Data Showing Support for Immigration Reform

Just two days after this post with a summary of recent public opinion surveys on immigration, the Pew Research Center, on June 4, released their yet another poll, and it is very consistent with others going back months and years. 

In the Pew survey, nearly three in four Americans (72%) agreed that “there should be a way for [undocumented immigrants] to stay in the country legally, if certain requirements are met.” Democrats, Independents and Republicans all favored allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the country legally (80%, 76% and 56%, respectively). Like a number of other surveys, this survey finds that young people are among the greatest supporters of the path to legal status—81% of those younger than 30.

Only 36 percent of respondents to the Pew survey felt that giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status “is like rewarding them for doing something wrong.” Among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents in this survey, only 34% said that Republicans were doing a good job representing their views on the immigration issue.

Bottom line: the public is far ahead of Congress when it comes to support for immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

Republican Primary Messages Contradict Public Support for a Path to Citizenship

The first half of 2015 is nearly over. So far this year, the immigration debate has been dominated by President Obama’s executive action on immigration and Republican efforts to stop it. Republican state leaders have been successful in using the courts to temporarily halt the president’s action. Congress has drafted legislation to overturn the President’s actions. Presidential races are underway, and many candidates for the Republican nomination have vowed to end the President’s order.

Between last year and this, the focus of the immigration debate has changed. Last year, it was legislation moving through Congress that would have offered long-resident undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, provided they could meet certain conditions. Conservative Republicans were successful at killing reform.

This year, with Congress seeming incapable of reforming the immigration laws, the President has acted to protect, at least temporarily, some of the same long-resident undocumented immigrants who would have benefited from the legislation. Again, conservative Republicans are trying to stop relief for these aspiring Americans.

It’s time to take another look at how the public feels about all this. By looking at several public opinion polls since the beginning of the year, it is clear that the public’s attitude has changed very little from last year to this. There is majority support for allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally.

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