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Melinda Warner Headshot

The American People WANT Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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Governor Jan Brewer has landed herself a meeting with the president. Good for her.

Unfortunately, any productive conversation that might come out of this meeting will be overshadowed by the nonsense coming from the GOP, Tea Partiers, and Brewer herself. These factions insist that Americans support the new law in Arizona, but they are doing the country a great disservice by not communicating the whole story.

Americans recognize our desperate need for reform. And they know that reform has stalled in Washington, so it isn't that surprising that so many support the Arizona law -- because it is at least an attempt at changing the situation, however misguided it may be.

CNN found that 80% of Americans want illegal immigrants to be able to earn their legal residency -- by having a job and paying back taxes -- compared to the 51% who support the Arizona law.

Additionally, the CNN poll found that 71% of Americans want employers who hire illegal immigrants to be fined to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. 54% of Americans also want to complete the fence and 88% want to increase Border Patrol along the U.S/Mexico border.

Interestingly, all of these issues are addressed in the Democratic proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.

59% of Quinnipiac respondents said illegal immigration is a "very serious" problem for the U.S. The same poll shows that while 51% approve of the Arizona law and 48% want their state to pass a similar bill, only 45% think the law will reduce illegal immigration, and 45% think the law will "lead to discrimination against Hispanics." So while 51% approve of the measures taken in Arizona, 45% of Americans clearly see the danger of the law sliding into racial discrimination against Latinos.

Quinnipiac also asked an unfortunate question that made respondents choose between two options that are actually both part of what comprehensive immigration reform entails -- when asked if they thought "immigration reform should primarily move in the direction of integrating illegal immigrants into American society or in the direction of stricter enforcement of laws against illegal immigration," 26% answered "integration" and 66% answered "enforcement." In reality, comprehensive immigration reform would incorporate both of these issues. It seems fairly obvious that a real solution would both bring immigrants out of the shadows into mainstream society and toughen enforcement of immigration law at the border and around the country.

A Gallup poll showed that 68% of Americans think border security is either extremely or very important, while 67% think "developing a plan to deal with the large number of illegal immigrants who are already living in the U.S." is either extremely or very important. Both are necessary, and both must be accomplished soon.

Americans support the Arizona law because they don't see the federal government making any moves to address the very serious situation we are in. And Americans recognize that when the federal government won't step up to the plate, the states can and will take matters into their own hands.

But the problem isn't that the federal government or the Democrats in power refuse to tackle the problem. It's the Republicans who are standing in the way of federal action. It's very convenient for Senators like John McCain to rant about the need for more troops at the border, but he -- and others like him -- are willfully deceiving their constituents and the American public at large because McCain and friends have continually voted against funding for the same border security measures they are currently fighting for.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was working closely with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) before Graham took his ball and went home. And since he decided he didn't want to participate in a bipartisan solution, no other Republican has had the courage to take on the task.

Republicans are the ones who killed immigration reform in 2006 and 2007 -- and they're going to be responsible for killing it in 2010 if none of them are willing to put their partisan nonsense aside and work with Democrats to fix the situation.

Polling shows that Americans want Congress to fix immigration -- now it's up to Republicans to quit hiding behind their partisan agenda and do what needs to be done.

Read this post at PoliticalCorrection.org.