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New polls: Even in red states, strong support for immigration reform

Supporting immigration reform (Photo/Getty Images)
Supporting immigration reform
A bipartisan poll of voters in 29 states finds there is broad support for immigration reform, even in red states, and it cuts along party lines.  Sixty-four percent of Republicans in Texas, for example, support reform, as well as 69% of GOP supporters in North Dakota.  The poll also found voters would support—not punish—legislators who support reform. Fifty-eight percent of voters in Arkansas, 55% in Alaska, and 60% in North Carolina say they are more likely to reelect their senator following a “yes” vote on the immigration bill.

“While immigration reform will not pass with 100% of elected officials, the big picture is that there is a broad and diverse support for comprehensive immigration reform,” says Justin Sayfie, former spokesperson for Florida Governor Jeb Bush, speaking about the poll’s results. Sayfie added that the word “comprehensive” is key. Voters in the poll, he says, do not want a piecemeal approach to immigration; they want legislation that would secure the borders, block employers from hiring undocumented immigrants, and require that those who came here illegally but who do not have a criminal record be allowed to pursue a path to citizenship.

The polls in the 29 states were commissioned by Republicans for Immigration Reform, the Alliance for Citizenship and the Partnership for a New American Economy, groups which are composed of immigration-reform-friendly Republicans such as former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.  "I hope the poll shows both parties there is widespread support, and we can get to some kind of middle ground,” says Gutierrez.

These groups are lending their support to Republicans currently working on immigration legislation, such as Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio, and members of Congress such as Mario Diaz-Balart and Paul Ryan.

But while this is the case with some Republicans, statements from hard-core immigration opponents like Texas Senator Ted Cruz can do a lot of damage among Latino registered voters, a poll finds.

A new Latino Decisions/America’s Voice poll found disapproval for the GOP climbed to 72% after those polled were read a recent statement by Cruz: "I have serious concerns about any legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for those who are here illegally,” as well as “We should prohibit all federal, state and local benefits for those who are here illegally, and ensure that illegal immigrants are not given a path to citizenship.”

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, who filed an amendment last week to remove deferred action, tweeted out that “20 brazen self professed illegal aliens have just invaded my DC office.  Obama’s lawless order gives them de facto immunity from U.S. law.”  King’s anti-DREAMer is precisely what the party does not need if it wants to attract Latino voters, explains Latino Decisions senior analyst Sylvia Manzano.

“The results demonstrate that there is no “distancing from the party” when it comes to the immigration reform bill and associated position-taking,” says Manzano.  ”It is perfectly reasonable that Latino voters view elected officials as spokespeople for their party, and either reward or blame them in similar proportion.”

On the other hand, over half of Latino registered voters say they would be more favorable to the Republican party if they pass immigration reform.

“In combination, these results tell us that Republicans have a unique opportunity to re-build relationships with Latino voters,” says Manzano.  ”Should they squander the moment by blocking the bill, they will effectively concede the majority of the Latino vote for many election cycles to come,” she states.

Whether these kind of comments will sway some members of the GOP to support reform legislation will be seen in the next few weeks.

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