Monday, June 07, 2010


An interesting set of polling data on the popularity of Arizona's "papers, please" law shows something very intriguing.
Supporters of the measure are even more likely than its opponents to favor a comprehensive immigration overhaul, a new survey conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies found Friday.

A whopping eighty-four percent of Arizona law backers said they support reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants – higher than the seventy-eight percent of overall national voters in favor of such a program.

Despite its high-profile controversies and legal challenges, voters said they favor the state's measure by a massive 60 to 23 percent margin – 45 percent "strongly" support it. Numerous national polls have shown similar findings.

But this popularity appears not to be a referendum on the specifics of the measure. Instead, the study finds that public support has been driven largely by growing hunger for action on immigration and intensifying frustration with Congress’s inability to fix what is widely perceived as a broken system.

Of the Arizona measure’s backers, 52 percent said their support comes from the fact that "[t]he state took action because the federal government has failed to solve the problem," the poll found. Only 28 percent liked it because it will "reduce illegal immigration"; 12 percent because it’ll “reduce crime."

Given the choice, respondents overwhelmingly said immigration should be dealt with at the federal – rather than the state – level, but chose state action over the status quo.
In other words a "path to citizenship" as part of comprehensive immigration reform that allows illegal citizens to become citizens is overwhelmingly popular, and extremely popular among supporters of Arizona's immigration law.

It's the same path that Bush proposed in 2005 and Democrats proposed earlier this year, but in 2005 as the wingnut fringe of the GOP declared the path a non-starter, it became the excuse needed to not take any federal action on immigration.  Indeed, who could forget the calls of "Shamnesty!" from Malkinvania as the wingers turned on President Bush and scuttled the bill?

The real finding however is that more than half the people who support the bill are mainly doing so because it's better than the non-existent federal plan to deal with immigration. In other words, a majority of the supporters of Arizona's state law want to see a comprehensive national immigration law put into place.

But with the July 4th recessing looming and campaign season about to get underway in earnest, there appears to be no plans by either party to try to create a national immigration law.  This is an opportunity being blown big time for the Dems to lead the way on immigration reform, especially given the GOP failure on the plan five years ago.

Real immigration reform would be a winner for the Dems right now, which is why the GOP wants nothing to do with a national plan but continues to attack President Obama for...not having a national plan.  The unfortunate news is passing immigration reform isn't going to get any easier politically in 2011 when a new, almost certainly less Obama-friendly Congress meets in January.

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