The U.S. public is coming around to the Republican position on immigration, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll
The survey found that 35 percent of Americans believe the Republican Party is better positioned to address immigration, as against 27 percent who think Democrats would do a better job. The December margins had favored Democrats 31 percent to 26 percent for Republicans.
Proposals to offer some 11 million illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship are losing support considerably. Now, 53 percent are in favor with 45 percent opposed. In April, those in favor numbered 64 percent against 35 percent who were opposed.
Pollsters attribute the shift in public opinion to the influx of children who illegally crossed into the United States from Central America earlier this year. The GOP message
has been that security on the border is lax and that a 2008 bipartisan law intended to discourage sex trafficking has had the unintended result of encouraging illegal migration and needs to be amended.
With public opinion across demographic groups turning against undocumented immigration, President Barack Obama has decided to postpone any unilateral executive branch moves to cut back on deportations. Among African-Americans, for example, backing for a pathway to citizenship is down to 59 from 75 percent, the Journal reported.
"The Central American kids totally reopened the dialogue about whether our borders were secure," said Bill McInturff, the Republican co-director of the Journal/NBC poll. Democratic pollster Fred Yang added: "I'm just not sure how much bounce back there will be with some of these groups."
Only when voters are provided with a detailed scenario in which any legalization program would require undocumented aliens to pay back taxes and go through security vetting did support for a pathway to citizenship rise to 73 percent — down only slightly from the 76 percent who were in support in April.
The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters between Sept. 3-7. The margin of error is 3.1 points.
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