Two Out of Three Republican Voters Support Immigration Reform

Image: Two Out of Three Republican Voters Support Immigration Reform Activists from the immigrant advocacy group Promise Arizona attend a rally and revival in Phoenix on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Saturday, 02 Mar 2013 08:00 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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Some 66 percent of Republican voters support immigration reform that includes a waiting period of several years for illegal immigrants to prove themselves before being allowed to apply for citizenship.

During the waiting period illegal immigrants would be granted legal status and a green card in return for paying back taxes and fines, learning English and remaining free of a criminal record, according to a survey by John McLaughlin and Associates of 500 likely Republican voters nationally.

Only about 30 percent of the likely voters, who were polled between Feb. 25-28, did not support immigration reform.

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“When Republicans are told of the bill introduced by Senator Marco Rubio, support swells to 75-17,” observes McLaughlin and Associates.

In recent months, Rubio has taken the lead in steering the GOP’s efforts toward a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would give more than 12 million illegals currently in the United States legal status.

President Obama took 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in his recent re-election bid against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And Rubio is considered one of the GOP’s best hopes to increase the ranks of Hispanic voters.

With respect to the Rubio measure, likely Republican voters were told that the Florida Republican’s bill provides “illegal immigrants, who are now in the United States, a way to begin the process of becoming legal by identifying themselves to federal authorities and being fingerprinted,” according to McLaughlin and Associates.

“If they have no criminal record and have been in the US for a while, they would then pay a fine and taxes and would be eligible to apply for legal residency.”

However, to “become citizens, they would need to go to the back of the line behind those now in line seeking legal entry from their countries,” potential respondents were told.

Given that information, some 38.8 percent of likely Republican voters said they strongly supported Rubio’s measure, while another 36 percent said they somewhat supported Rubio’s proposal.

Only 11.4 percent strongly opposed the measure compared to 5.4 percent, who somewhat opposed it for a combined total of 16.8 percent — slightly less than half as many of the likely voters who did not support immigration reform when the question talked of immigration reform but did not specify the Rubio proposal.

A separate survey of 1,100 U.S. citizens of Latino or Hispanic descent revealed “a strong propensity” of those polled to “side with the Republican Party over issues of family, crime, drugs, church, debt, and social welfare policies.”

Most of those interviews were conducted between Jan. 2-31 in person by Rafael Gimenez, pollster to former Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Some 59 percent of Hispanics reported that “Democrats are closer to the leaders we had in Latin America, always giving handouts to get votes,” according to the findings. “If we let them have their way, we will end up being like the countries our families came from, not like the America of great opportunities we all came to.”

The American citizens also said that Republicans would do more to “encourage young couples to get married before they have children” by a margin of 45-31 percent and they overwhelmingly agreed that “the family fabric in America is being ripped apart.”

Respondents believe that parents are too permissive in the U.S., that there is too much divorce, too many unwed mothers and too many children who don’t listen to their parents.

“By 49-32 they credited the Republican Party as more likely to address the problem than Democrats were,” the survey reported.

Some 74 percent of Hispanic citizens — compared to only 23 percent who felt otherwise — also agreed that the U.S. must reduce its debt or risk being “ruined.”

Again “Hispanics felt that Republicans would do better on this issue by 39-37” percent, according to the findings.

Some 89 percent of Latino respondents also agreed that government handouts are “very bad and leads to lifetimes of unemployment, poverty and crime.”

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In all, 45 percent of the respondents — compared to 37 percent — believe that Republicans would be better than Democrats on this issue.

“Latinos are determined to follow the upward trajectory of other immigrant groups,” the findings report. “By 78-16 they say that Hispanic immigrants must avoid ‘high unemployment, crime, drugs and welfare” but should be “more like the hard working . . . immigrants who came here and worked their way up without depending on the government.’”

Once again, Latino Americans were more inclined to think that Republicans would better handle this issue by a margin of 45-29 percent.

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