Thursday, October 16, 2008

Immigration Reform Becoming Harder Sell

A new Zogby opinion survey for Inter-American Dialogue appears to show a hardening of citizen opinion about immigration reform that includes a path for citizenship. Immigrant advocates have long argued that the U.S. public overwhelmingly supports legalization, but slightly more than half of likely voters (52%) said they oppose a new path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. who are in the country illegally, while only 39% said they favor the development of a path to citizenship. A new path to citizenship is supported by 64% of Democrats, but just 17% of Republicans and 34% of independents. But when asked if they would support a path to citizenship if conditions and penalties were imposed, support increased. Sixty-seven percent would support a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally if they pay taxes, pay a penalty and learn English. Most (53%) also support expanding temporary worker programs for migrants as a way to fill jobs that are not being taken by American workers. According to the survey, 58% of likely voters support strengthening or expanding a fence along the U.S. border with Mexico as the best way to stop illegal immigration -- 86% of McCain supporters support the a border fence while only 28% of Obama supporters said the same.

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