A majority of likely voters supports giving legal status to illegal immigrants provided the border is secured to prevent future illegal immigration, according to a Rasmussen survey published Tuesday. However, only 30 percent think the federal government would actually follow through on border security, compared to 57 percent who said the government would be unlikely to do so.
According to the survey, 55 percent of likely voters favor a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would “secure the border and prevent future immigration” while giving legal status to “those who entered the country illegally but have otherwise obeyed the law.” However, when asked if current illegal immigrants should be “granted legal status right away or…only after the border is secured,” 66 percent of respondents said border security should come first.
The results echo those from similar polling on immigration reform. Voters generally support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but also believe that effectively securing the border should be an important, if not paramount, component of reform. In fact, many believe border security should be a precondition for legal status. But as critics of the Gang of Eight’s plan have pointed out, illegal immigrants would become eligible for legal status almost immediately after the bill is passed, as soon as Department of Homeland security Janet Napolitano has submitted a plan to acheive a high level of border security.
Critics believe there is good reason to be skeptical that the Obama administration (or any future administration) will effectively secure the border and enforce existing immigration laws once legal status has been granted. After all, if the 1986 immigration reform legislation had lived up to its promises of security and enforcement, we might not be having this conversation to begin with.