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June 18, 2005

American Voters Support Common-Sense Immigration Reform

The AILA WASHINGTON UPDATE, Volume 9, Number 4, June 2005 has an article about overwhelming voter support for common sense immigration reform;

New public opinion research released on April 7, 2005 by AILA and the National Immigration Forum demonstrates American voters’ overwhelming support for comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform, much like the recently introduced Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (S. 1033/H.R. 2330). Support for this proposal is strong along party lines, regional lines and demographic lines.

American voters support a system that combines toughness with fairness, and provides a path to citizenship with reasonable requirements, implements an effective guest worker program, and reunites families. Voters want a system that rewards immigrants who come here to work hard, pay taxes, and learn English. The following are key findings from this nationwide survey of “likely” voters.

• There is overwhelming and intense support among likely voters for the proposed outlines of bipartisan legislation on immigration reform. Fully 75% of likely voters favor a proposal that has the following components:

• Registration of undocumented workers as temporary guest workers,
• Provides temporary work visas for seasonal and temporary workers,
• Provides newly registered workers with a multi-year process for legal residency and eventual citizenship,
• Provides newly registered workers with no preferential treatment for citizenship,
• Provides tougher penalties for workers or employers who violate these laws, and
• Puts a priority on reuniting close family members.

• Support for this proposal is solid across party lines – 78% of Republicans, 77% of Independents, and 70% of Democrats are supportive; and regional lines – 77% of Red State voters, 79% of Blue State voters, and, 72% of Purple State voters are supportive; and demographic lines – 78% of whites, 67% of African Americans, and 70% of Hispanics are supportive.

• In thinking about the impact this proposal could have on the upcoming Congressional elections, 69% of likely voters indicate that they would be more likely to support a Congressional candidate who supported this type of immigration proposal.

• More than three-in-four likely voters agree on these statements framing the immigration reform debate:

• “The immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed.”
• “If an immigrant has been in this country working, paying taxes, and learning English, there should be a way for them to become a citizen.”
• “Fixing our immigration system to make it safe, legal, and orderly will make us more secure from terrorists.”

The Tarrance Group and Lake, Snell, Perry, and Mermin conducted this poll between March 20-22 of 800 likely voters nationwide and drafted the above summary of survey results. For details on the public opinion research, please go to: http://www.aila.org/fileViewer.aspx?docID=18192

Senators Cornyn and Kyl Announce Proposed Enforcement-Only Provisions

Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Chair of the Senate Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship Subcommittee, and Jon Kyle (R-AZ), Chair of the Senate Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security Committee, issued in late May the enforcement-related provisions that they indicated would be included in legislation they are expected to introduce later this summer, the Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005 (CEIRA). While citing the need for comprehensive reform, it is troubling that the Senators issued an enforcement-only proposal. Enforcement, without appropriate reform of our immigration system, will fail. The two must be developed in conjunction with each other to succeed.

In the press conference they held when issuing these proposals, the Senators indicated that they are now looking at a “work-and-return” program to encompass their immigration reform proposal. Such an approach is fundamentally flawed. A guest-worker program that requires all workers to return home, in and of itself, cannot be considered comprehensive reform. Such an approach ignores the significant problems in the current system—namely, those who are residing now in the U.S. but who do not have lawful status, and families who must endure lengthy separations. It is unrealistic to assume that significant numbers of undocumented people will step forward and register for a program which, at the end of the day, would force them to leave their jobs and families. A program that includes no real possibility for temporary workers to earn permanent resident status if they meet the eligibility requirements will not generate full participation and will hurt our economy. People will simply chose not to participate, or take the risk and go back into the shadows if the laws do not change before the time period of the program expires. It also is unrealistic to assume that families will endure decades of separation. To enhance our security, we need immigration laws that acknowledge the needs of American business, reunite families, and allow us to find out who is living in the United States. A work and return-type approach simply fails on these counts.

That this approach is deeply flawed was made clear during the hearings Senator Cornyn has held in the past few months, some in conjunction with Senator Kyl. In testimony before both Subcommittees, AILA Member and West Point Associate Professor of Law Margaret Stock underscored the need for comprehensive reform, as set forth in the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (S. 1033/H.R. 2330). To view Professor Stock’s testimony, go to: http://www.aila.org/fileViewer.aspx?docID=18638

CONTRIBUTORS

Judith Golub, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs
Marshall Fitz, Associate Director of Advocacy
Danielle Polen, Legislative Counsel
Joanna Hedvall, Business Immigration Associate
John Estrella, Senior Policy Associate
Julia Hendrix, Media Relations Associate
Michelle Mendez, Advocacy Assistant

American Immigration Lawyers Association
918 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
202-216-2403

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Posted by VisaLawyer at June 18, 2005 07:15 AM

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