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Majority of Voters of Every Race Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform by Seth Freed Wessler
The overwhelming majority of 2012 voters strongly support the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. According to a new bi-partisan poll released today, voters across racial, geographic and, perhaps most significantly, partisan lines, want Congress to pass an immigration bill.

The poll asked just over 1000 recent voters to weigh in on an immigration reform bill this year and 73 percent of respondents said they support a path to citizenship. Just one in five respondents said they undocumented immigrants should be forced to leave the country.

The poll adds new weight to a push for immigration reform that’s already gained significant momentum in Washington and sends a message to wary Republicans that their constituents support action. In the past, many conservatives on the fence about immigration have decided not to support reform because of fears that they could put off primary voters. Advocates said today that the poll—conducted by Democratic Hart Research Associates and Republican Public Opinion Strategies—would help put these fears to rest.

The poll shows broad support for “rational immigration policy that serves the interests of every American and their family…. Reform that ensures our security and respects the rule of law,” said Jeb Bush Jr., the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sr., and a board member for National Immigration Forum, which co-sponsored today’s press conference along with SEIU and America’s Voice.

Over half of those polled said they would be more likely to vote for a Congressperson who supported immigration from. Only 8 percent said an elected official’s support for immigration reform would drive them to vote against a candidate.

“We have firmly believed that fixing the broken immigration system is not just a Latino or immigration priority but in fact it is a priority for the American people,” said Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer at the Service Employees International Union. “The poll tests that theory…. I am absolutely amazed by the level of bi-partisan support.”

For most of the last decade, many Republicans have demanded that before adding their support to an immigration bill, the government must first bolster border and interior immigration enforcement. Poll respondents pushed back against this two step approach, saying clearly that they support immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship along side changes in enforcement practices. Half of Republican respondents said a path citizenship should be coupled with immigration enforcement in the same bill.

Most respondents said that an immigration reform package that creates a path to citizenship should require that undocumented immigrants pay taxes owed and that employers should be forced to check immigration status of those they hire. Two thirds of respondents also said an immigration reform bill should prevent employers from lowering wages by hiring workers. Over half of respondents said immigration policy should reunify separated families.

In the past, Republican lawmakers have proposed reforms that provide a route to residency that does not end in citizenship. But only a third of those polled said they would prioritize an immigration bill without a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Washington lawmakers from left to right have promised immigration reform this year, and the president reiterated in recent weeks that the issue is at the top of his agenda. But adviocates are nonetheless clear that there remains work to be done.

“We will continue to build support throughout the country and keep reaching out to all sectors of society,” Medina said. “We believe the time is now, and we look forward to getting it done.”