Immigration

GOP, Public Mull Immigration Reform

In this Aug. 15, 2012 photo, Arizona Dream Act Coalition staff members, other advocacy group representatives and young immigrants line up for guidance from immigration attorney Jose Penalosa, for a new federal program, called Deferred Action, that would help the illegal immigrants avoid deportation in Phoenix. Schools and consulates have been flooded with requests for documents after President Barack Obama announced a new program allowing young illegal immigrants to apply for two-year renewable work permits. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
National Journal
John Aloysius Farrell
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John Aloysius Farrell
Nov. 14, 2012, 6:26 a.m.

Amer­ic­ans ap­pear to be mov­ing to­ward con­sensus on the dif­fi­cult is­sue of im­mig­ra­tion re­form, with 76 per­cent of those sur­veyed in the United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll say­ing that the na­tion should al­low some or all of the na­tion’s 11 mil­lion il­leg­al im­mig­rants to re­main in the United States if they meet cer­tain con­di­tions of res­id­ency and good be­ha­vi­or.

(RE­LATED AT­LANTIC STORY: Why Im­mig­ra­tion Re­port Now Sparks the GOP)

Not quite as many Amer­ic­ans — but still a sol­id ma­jor­ity — sup­port the the­ory that cli­mate change has in­creased the like­li­hood that dev­ast­at­ing storms will hit the U.S., and most re­spond­ents are will­ing to sup­port tough­er reg­u­la­tions and pay high­er en­ergy bills to help halt glob­al warm­ing.

These poll res­ults come as Con­gress re­turns for a lame-duck ses­sion in the wake of last week’s gen­er­al elec­tion. The sur­vey is the latest in a series of polls track­ing pub­lic pri­or­it­ies for Con­gress, and the first to be taken since Elec­tion Day. Law­makers in the lame-duck ses­sion are not ex­pec­ted to ad­dress either im­mig­ra­tion or cli­mate change, but those who re­turn in the 113th Con­gress may well find both on their agenda — and wide­spread sup­port for ac­tion.

The sur­vey showed grow­ing ac­cept­ance of un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants over the past year. When poll­sters asked the ques­tion in Decem­ber 2011, 67 per­cent said that the gov­ern­ment should per­mit such im­mig­rants to stay. The per­cent­age of those who want all il­leg­al im­mig­rants de­por­ted has shrunken from 25 per­cent to 17 per­cent over that same peri­od.

A third of those polled thought that all il­leg­al im­mig­rants should be per­mit­ted to stay if they have broken no oth­er laws and if they prom­ise to learn Eng­lish and U.S. his­tory. A slightly lar­ger group of those polled — 43 per­cent — are also will­ing to of­fer res­id­ency, but only to those law-abid­ing im­mig­rants who have been in the coun­try “for many years.”

Im­mig­ra­tion is a press­ing is­sue for many Latino voters, a grow­ing demo­graph­ic group that voted roughly 3-to-1 for Pres­id­ent Obama in last week’s elec­tion. Sev­er­al con­ser­vat­ive com­ment­at­ors, as well as lead­ing Re­pub­lic­an strategists and of­fice­hold­ers, have since stressed the need for the GOP to ap­peal to the Latino elect­or­ate, which views the party with skep­ti­cism for its hard-line stance on im­mig­ra­tion. An­oth­er grow­ing eth­nic group — Asi­an-Amer­ic­ans — sup­por­ted Obama with sim­il­ar en­thu­si­asm, ac­cord­ing to exit polls.

Fe­male re­spond­ents were the most for­giv­ing: Only 12 per­cent thought that all il­leg­al im­mig­rants should be de­por­ted, as op­posed to 23 per­cent of men. Black men and wo­men were more for­giv­ing than their white coun­ter­parts: Just 6 per­cent of Afric­an-Amer­ic­an re­spond­ents op­ted for full de­port­a­tion, as op­posed to 21 per­cent of whites. White men without col­lege dip­lo­mas took the hard­est line on de­port­a­tion, but even among this group, al­most two-thirds sup­por­ted some sort of pro­cess to let il­leg­al im­mig­rants stay, and just 34 per­cent op­ted for full de­port­a­tion.

Twenty-nine per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans sup­por­ted the harshest im­mig­ra­tion policy, but only 5 per­cent of Demo­crats. The fig­ure for in­de­pend­ents was 21 per­cent. Sup­port for full de­port­a­tion was strongest in rur­al Amer­ica, as well as the South and Mid­w­est, but in no re­gion of the coun­try did it top 21 per­cent.

The poll also asked voters about cli­mate change, a top­ic that has met fierce res­ist­ance from Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates and com­ment­at­ors but that has drawn new at­ten­tion in the wake of Hur­ricane Sandy and the ma­jor dam­age the su­per­storm caused on the East Coast. A healthy ma­jor­ity of those polled — 57 per­cent — said they be­lieved that cli­mate change is in­creas­ing the like­li­hood of such dev­ast­at­ing storms. Among that group, 74 per­cent said that Con­gress should act “more ur­gently” to ad­dress cli­mate change, even if ne­ces­sary reg­u­la­tions raised the cost of elec­tri­city and oth­er en­ergy.

Cli­mate policy was more con­tro­ver­sial than im­mig­ra­tion, however, with 79 per­cent of Demo­crats, 29 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans, and 56 per­cent of in­de­pend­ents agree­ing that cli­mate change con­trib­utes to cata­stroph­ic storms. Age was an­oth­er di­vider, as young people were the most per­suaded by sci­entif­ic con­clu­sions on glob­al warm­ing: 68 per­cent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 be­lieved the like­li­hood of nat­ur­al dis­asters is great­er. Skep­ti­cism in­creased with age, as 56 per­cent of the next two older co­horts — those between 30 and 49 years of age and those between 50 and 64 — sup­por­ted the the­ory, and just 53 per­cent of those over the age of 65. Still, that was a ma­jor­ity. 

Wo­men (62 per­cent) were more be­liev­ing then men (51 per­cent) on the sub­ject. And the re­gion­al dif­fer­ences matched those on im­mig­ra­tion, with the East (68 per­cent) and West (64 per­cent) lead­ing the Mid­w­est (52 per­cent) and the South (51 per­cent) among those who be­lieved that changes in the cli­mate cause vi­ol­ent weath­er.

The Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll was con­duc­ted by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al, which sur­veyed 1,000 adults from Nov. 8”“11. The poll has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 3.7 per­cent­age points. 

This art­icle ap­peared in the Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 14, 2012 edi­tion of Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily.

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