WashPo: Republicans Toughen Stance Against Immigration Reform

Monday, 14 Jul 2014 11:52 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Republicans have hardened their stance against immigration reform, including stronger calls for deportation, in the past seven years, a study by The Washington Post has found.

On the other hand, proponents of a pathway to citizenship are not passionate enough or have gained enough in numbers to bring about immigration change, especially as thousands of illegal immigrants pour into south Texas every month.

A recent Gallup study showed that in 2001, 62 percent of respondents thought that immigration was a "good thing," while in 2014 the figure was just 1 point more, 63 percent. In 2001, 31 percent said it was a "bad thing" while in 2014, 33 percent said it was a "bad thing," the Post said.

In 2007, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that 62 percent of Americans thought undocumented aliens should be allowed to apply for residency after two years of living in the United States, while 33 percent of respondents thought they should be deported.

But in February of this year, the same poll found that only 56 percent of Americans thought migrants should be allowed to apply for legal status, while 29 percent felt they should be deported, with 42 percent of Republicans supporting deportation, according to the Times' Upshot column.

More significantly, 52 percent of Americans said in the February Times/CBS poll that they wouldn't vote for a person who disagreed with them on immigration.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's defeat in Virginia by tea party candidate Dave Brat has been blamed on his support for some form of amnesty for 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential GOP presidential nominee in 2016, came under fire after his "act of love" comment this year for his support for illegal immigrants who flock to the United States.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in 2007 revealed that Republicans and people over 55 were reluctant to give illegals a pathway to citizenship. A similar poll in January indicated that 45 percent of Republicans would likely vote against a candidate who supported a pathway to citizenship.

In 2006, a Time magazine poll found that 47 percent of Americans favored deporting all illegal immigrants, a policy that then-President George W. Bush called "unrealistic."

Last year, a Pew Research Center poll showed that 76 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats believed that kicking out all illegals was unrealistic.

But that poll also found that 67 percent of tea party conservatives thought that undocumented aliens should only be allowed to apply for legal status after the borders are secured.

The Post study said recent polls show that Republican support for amnesty has weakened while opposition to a citizenship pathway has grown stronger.

In February 2014, only 32 percent of Republicans thought undocumented immigrants should be able to apply for citizenship, the newspaper said.

Last month, the Public Religion Research Institute's survey revealed that 37 percent of tea party members wanted to offer avenues of citizenship while the same number preferred deportation.

"Republicans, especially conservative Republicans, who have proved especially effective barriers to comprehensive anything in the Senate, seem to be drifting away from pathways to citizenship and toward more deportation," Jaime Fuller of the Post wrote.

"Even if there is broad support for change, it hasn't grown any stronger in the past six years. And in 2008, that support wasn't enough to lead to comprehensive changes. It seems like little more than piecemeal changes are likely to happen anytime soon."


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