Thursday, May 24, 2007

Most Americans want new road to citizenship

"Amnesty" is a red herring

Update 8:55 pm 5/24/07: a NYT/CBS News poll reveals the same sentiment: "Taking a pragmatic view on a divisive issue, a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status and to create a new guest worker program to meet future labor demand, the poll found."

From an op-ed in the Washington Post:

As usual, those yelling "amnesty" are the loudest voices. But they are increasingly out of sync with the public on immigration. Poll after poll in the past year shows 60 to 85 percent of voters in favor of an overhaul that would allow illegal immigrants to earn their way to citizenship by meeting certain requirements -- generally far less stringent requirements than those in the Senate compromise, which includes a $5,000 fine, at least a 13-year wait and a trip back to the immigrant's country of origin.

More striking still, even many voters who consider earned citizenship "amnesty" so badly want the immigration problem solved that they no longer care about the label. According to the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, 33 percent of the public think earned citizenship is "the same as amnesty." But a full 62 percent of even these people support the program anyway, compared with 29 percent who oppose it. In other words, less than one-third of one-third of Americans -- just under 10 percent -- agree with the talk-radio hosts screaming "amnesty" to block an overhaul.

Photo by Gene Hunt

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