By Joseph Cotto
FLORIDA, February 19, 2013 — Now that the frenzy to pass an immigration bill — which is amnesty by any other name — seems to have stalled, it would be wise to consider some much needed, but often ignored, facts on the matter.
What better source than a recent poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research?
Steven A. Camarota, who is the research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, points out that the poll of likely voters uses unbiased language, so it is not privy to “the false choice of conditional legalization vs. mass deportation”. The poll indicated “that most Americans want illegal immigrants to return to their home count[r]ies, rather than be given legal status.” The poll also found that there is “a very large gap in intensity, with those who want illegal immigrants to head home feeling much stronger about that option than those who would like to see illegal immigrants receive legal status”.
More specifically, 52 percent of respondents said that they wish to see illegals resettle in their homelands, while just 33 percent favor legalization. Of the intensity gap, 73 percent reported very strong feelings about the former viewpoint, and only 35 percent reported an equal sentiment for the latter.
Furthermore, “64 percent said that enforcement of immigration laws has been “too little”, while just 10 percent said that it had been too much, and 15 percent said it was “just right”.”
It was also noted that 71 percent believe America has a high population of illegals because not enough effort is made to enforce immigration laws. A paltry 18 percent, meanwhile, think our country does not feature enough legal immigration, and that this contributes to the aforementioned population.
Perhaps this is the poll’s most important revelation: “Another reason for skepticism about legalization is that most voters (69 percent) agreed with the statement that “giving legal status to illegal immigrants does not solve the problem because rewarding law breaking will only encourage more illegal immigration.” Just 26 percent disagreed.
As one might assume, no great number of respondents are confident that immigration laws will be subject to enforcement should amnesty prevail. 27 percent do have such confidence, but an overwhelming 70 percent lack it. Of course, the idea of enforcing immigration laws is resoundingly popular.
The Republican Party ought to pay close attention to the following numbers.
The poll found that “53 percent indicated that they would be more likely to support a political party that supports enforcing immigration laws vs. only 32 percent who said they would be more likely to support a party that supports legalization.”
Can the message be any clearer? If the GOP were to follow the path of public opinion as opposed to, say, the preferences of Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and, sadly, John McCain, many of its electoral troubles would surely be solved.
There can be little doubt that the antiabortion movement, opposition to gay marriage, unrestricted gun ownership, fundamentalist Christian theo-activism, and similar causes are fading fast on the national stage. Ten years from now, they could all very well be nothing more than distant memories for the American mainstream.
Illegal immigration, though, does not appear to be headed off into the sunset. It has confronted our society for far too long, and in spite of overwhelming pressure from leaders in both major political parties, amnesty is anything but a sure deal.
As a realist first and foremost, I have cautious optimism that 2013 will turn out to be more like 2006 than 1986. The economy might be troubled, and the mood of the country less than stellar, but common sense appears to hold enduring appeal.
How thankful we all ought to be for that.