Americans are largely supportive of major aspects of the immigration deal put forward by a bipartisan group of senators on Monday, and largely endorsed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, including both opportunities for those currently in the country illegally and also increased border security measures, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Half of respondents to the new poll supported the idea behind the Dream Act -- that young people who entered the U.S. illegally as children should have a path to citizenship if they attend college or serve in the U.S. military -- while 29 percent said they were opposed. The survey also found higher support than opposition for the idea of creating a path to citizenship through an agricultural guest-worker program, with 45 percent saying they support that proposal and 34 percent saying they oppose it.
Although those proposals received more support than opposition overall, Republicans were more likely to oppose than support them, highlighting the difficulty for GOP members of Congress attempting to balance the need for immigration reforms with the demands of their constituents. Republicans in the survey opposed the Dream Act by a 45 percent to 35 percent margin, and opposed a pathway to citizenship through an agricultural-workers program 52 percent to 31 percent.
Other recent surveys have found that at least half of Americans support eventually allowing illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. to become citizens, though the exact level of support varied depending on the question's wording. A CBS News poll allowing respondents to choose between an eventual pathway to citizenship, deportation or a guest worker program without an eventual pathway to citizenship found a slim 51 percent majority supporting a pathway to citizenship. But an AP-GfK poll asking respondents simply whether they favor or oppose creating a legal way for illegal immigrants in the U.S. to become citizens found that 62 percent would support doing so.
The elements of the so-called group of eight's immigration reform proposal that are receiving both the greatest and broadest support are enforcement measures involving border security and preventing hiring of illegal immigrants.
By a 67 percent to 14 percent margin, Americans said they support using unmanned drones along the U.S. border to spot people entering the U.S. illegally. And by a 74 percent to 11 percent margin, more support the idea of requiring employers to use a yet-to-be-established federal database to find out if new employees are authorized to work in the U.S. Both of those proposals received majority support from Democrats, Republicans and independents in the survey, as well as majority support from Hispanic respondents.
Along with support for an opportunity for illegal immigrants to become citizens and for tougher enforcement measures, the survey also found that a 56-percent majority of Americans support the proposal to provide permanent residency for immigrants receiving advanced degrees in fields related to engineering, science and technology from American universities.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Jan. 28-29 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.
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"Gang Of Eight"
A <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/immigration-reform-framework_n_2566494.html?1359387491">bipartisan group of senators</a> have come together to address the issue of immigration reform. The group consists of four members of each party -- Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado, plus Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Their framework was announced Monday.
Pathway To Citizenship
A <a href="http://www.docstoc.com/docs/142894316/Bipartisan-immigration-plan">"tough but fair" </a> road to citizenship is the main tenet of the bipartisan immigrant plan. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is the most significant supporter of this idea, giving hope to those who doubt Republicans will support the plan.
The New Process
The new process of obtaining citizenship would be just that -- a process. Probationary citizens would be required to pass an additional background check, learn English, pay taxes and show that they have a history of employment to apply for permanent residence and a green card. Undocumented immigrants will receive green cards after all probationary citizens have been processed, ensuring that documented immigrants are addressed first. Separate processes would be designed for young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and agricultural workers.
Enforcement, Then Green Cards
The first goal, before any green cards are handed out, is to "demonstrate our commitment to securing our borders and combating visa overstays," the senators say in their framework.
Enhance Border Security And Drones
Emphasizing enforcement measures, the framework calls for increased boarder control, including more border agents and aerial surveillance and drones. A new system would be added to ensure visa stays are being adhered to, along with a commission of border lawmakers to aid legislation.
Increase Employment Verification
The senators have proposed to create an "effective employment verification system" that would help prevent identity theft while allowing employers to feel secure in hiring documented immigrants.
No Benefits For Probationary Immigrants
Immigrants who are in the probationary category would not be eligible for federal benefits in the senators' framework. This addresses the concern that public benefits, particularly health-related ones, are being spent on undocumented immigrants.
An Easier Path For 'The Best And Brightest'
The framework recognizes that a different sort of process would be needed for "the best and brightest," including highly-skilled workers and those with higher education. This has been previously addressed in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/stem-act-white-house-immigration_n_2207279.html">STEM Act </a> which was ultimately vetoed by the White House.