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Poll: 60 Percent of Hispanics Back ‘Enforcement First’ Approach to Immigration Reform



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A majority of Hispanic voters think legal status to illegal immigrants should be granted only after a goal of stopping 90 percent of future illegal immigration has been acheived, according to a new survey by GOP pollster John McLaughlin. 

By a margin of 60 percent to 34 percent, registered Hispanic voters said they supported granting legal status to illegal immigrants “only when the 90% goal is reached.” Hispanic adults backed the proposal by a nearly identical margin — 60 percent to 32 percent.

The proposal offered in the poll is even more hawkish than the one put forward by Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas), who offered an amendment to the Gang of Eight immigration bill that would have required a 90 percent border-apprehension rate before illegal immigrants, having already been granted legal status under the legislation, could apply for citizenship.

Cornyn’s amendment, however, was rejected by the Gang and its supporters in favor of the “border surge” amendment from Senators Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R., N.D.), which establishes a 90 percent apprehension rate as a guideline that has no bearing on the granting of legal status or citizenship. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that even with the Corker-Hoeven amendment, the Gang of Eight bill would only reduce future illegal immigration by 33 percent to 50 percent. 

Among the poll’s other notable findings:

By a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent, Hispanic voters oppose allowing illegal immigrants to obtain federal benefits, including Obamacare benefits, “while they are going through the legalization process and before the 90% goal is reached.”

When asked to choose which of four issues — the economy, immigration reform, education, or health care — is most important to them, registered Hispanic voters said immigration reform was their lowest priority. Just 31 percent ranked the issue first or second, compared with 62 percent for the economy, 57 percent for health care, and 45 percent for education. Non-registered voters, on the other hand, ranked immigration reform as their highest priority.

Generally speaking, registered Hispanic voters were far more likely to support tougher security and enforcement measures than non-registered voters. For example, 64 percent of registered voters said they supported employment verification to determine if job applicants are lawful residents, compared with just 46 percent of non-registered voters. Additionally, 55 percent of registered voters backed increased border-security measures (fencing, drones, police, etc.), compared with 45 percent of non-registered voters.

The Republican party definitely has problems with Hispanic voters. For example, 65 percent of voters said they think the GOP discriminates against Hispanics, and 62 percent said they don’t think the GOP “cares about people like you.” Fifty-nine percent said they think Republicans want to stop immigration because they want to keep Hispanics out of the country.

However, only 29 percent of registered Hispanic voters said they would never vote for a Republican member of Congress. Voters were split on whether they believed that “new forces” within the GOP, such as Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), are “fighting for immigration reform and fair treatment for Latinos” (47 percent), or whether the GOP “is the same old Republican Party and is as prejudiced as always against Latinos” (42 percent).



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