A Pew Research Poll released on June 4, 2015, found that nearly 3 in 4 Americans support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country provided they meet certain requirements. The national survey of 2,002 American adults, conducted from May 12-18, 2005, showed broad public support for granting undocumented immigrants a path to legal status in the United States.
According to the poll, 72 percent of Americans believed that undocumented immigrants should be able to remain in the country legally, by applying for either U.S. citizenship or permanent residence status. Unsurprisingly, there was a significant partisan divide on the issue of granting undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.
Democrats (80 percent) and Independents (76 percent) overwhelmingly supported granting undocumented immigrants a path to legal status. Republicans were much less enthusiastic, although even 56 percent of Republicans agreed that “there should be a way for undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, if requirements are met”.
The Pew Research Poll demonstrates just how thorny the immigration issue could become for Republican candidates in 2016. While most of the GOP field is adopting a hard line anti-immigration stance, that position puts them at odds with a majority of American voters.
The poll also underscores how difficult the GOP’s attempts to win over Hispanic voters will become. 86 percent of Hispanics, including 79 percent of American-born Hispanics, believe that undocumented immigrants should be granted a path to legal status. Republican candidates who dogmatically refuse to consider any compromise on immigration policy risk alienating Hispanic voters even further.
In 2012, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney only managed to win 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, a sharp drop from the 44 percent the GOP secured in 2004, when George W. Bush won re-election. The Republican Party has not moderated their position on immigration since the 2012 campaign, so their odds of attracting Hispanic voters remain dismal if they continue to adhere to their current intransigent anti-immigrant positions.
Most Americans have adopted a pragmatic, human rights centered perspective on immigration policy. While they may want undocumented immigrants to fulfill some requirements and “jump through some hoops” in order to stay, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe they should be allowed to stay. The position of the American public is a reasonable one. Because it is reasonable, it also spells trouble for leaders in the Republican Party who have attached their electoral fortunes to an ever-shrinking xenophobic minority.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.