Politics & Policy

Immigration is Center Stage in Angle-Reid Race

It was just a matter of time before immigration issues became central in the race for Majority Leader Harry Reid’s seat.

That time is here.

Reid said Tuesday he will add the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to the defense bill that the Senate will take up next week. The measure provides a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. Reid called the DREAM Act “really important” and said at a news conference he believes it is the best Democrats can do in the face of GOP opposition. “I know we can’t do comprehensive immigration reform, but those Republicans we had in the last Congress have left us,” Reid said.

While it is true that some Hispanic voters are angry with Democratic leadership for not doing more to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, the majority of voters in Nevada are unlikely to favor policies like DREAM.

A survey conducted by Mason-Dixon from Sept. 7-9 showed Nevada voters think immigration is the most important issue facing the country after the economy/jobs and government spending/deficit/taxes. Here’s the poll, by the numbers:

  • A majority of the state’s voters, 54 percent, said they believe illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from Nevada citizens.

  • 89 percent support placing tougher penalties on employers who hire workers who are in the country illegally.

  • 46 percent think Nevada’s economy would be better if those who are not here legally were removed from the workforce.

  • 57 percent support amending the U.S. Constitution to deny automatic citizenship to children born in the country whose parents are here without legal status.

The Sharron Angle campaign is seizing the political opportunity and has wasted no time in producing a new ad that says Harry Reid is “the best friend an illegal alien ever had.” The 30-second commercial slams Reid for his opposition to Arizona’s immigration law and for favoring tax breaks and Social Security benefits for illegal immigrants.

The ad also speaks straight to voters’ concerns that illegal workers are taking jobs away at a time of record high unemployment in the state:

Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen this morning told Battle ‘10 he is convinced this is a winning issue for the campaign:

Harry Reid is actively campaigning against the wishes of Nevada voters when it comes to illegal immigration. Reid’s push for amnesty, his support of the lawsuit against Arizona, and his most recent ploy to put the DREAM Act into the upcoming defense bill are all signs that Harry Reid stands on the opposite side of Nevada voters on illegal immigration.

Nevada tops the nation when it comes to the percentage of illegal immigrants in the workforce, according to reports issued in 2009 and 2010 by the Pew Hispanic Center. The state had an estimated 130,000 undocumented workers in 2009, the highest in the nation, at 9.4 percent.

The new Angle ad will not play well with Hispanics who make up approximately one-quarter of Nevada’s population, but Reid already commands more Latino support than Angle so she has little to lose in that arena. On the other hand, her conservative positions on illegal immigration will likely endear her to some non-partisan voters worried about the economy and jobs.

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