Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Poll says 62% of Arizonians Support Path to Citizenship

AZ Republic reports: One true thing rises above all the controversy over Senate Bill 1070: People know it is not the answer. Yes, polls show the state's ill-conceived immigration law is popular. But polls also show that the people understand complexities their political leaders ignore.

An Arizona Republic poll found:
. 62 percent support allowing illegal immigrants who are living here now to remain in the country if they have a job and no criminal record.
. The same poll found 55 percent of Arizonans support SB 1070.
. The strategy often damned as "amnesty" is more popular than the get-tough law.

This is not as contradictory as it may appear. SB 1070 masquerades as a law-and-order solution. People want order. So do we. This editorial page has been calling for a federal overhaul of the immigration system since 2002 out of the same desire to replace the current chaos with an enforceable system. Support for SB 1070 reflects bone-deep frustration with a broken system that brought death to our deserts and drophouses to our neighborhoods. The feds have the authority, the duty and the ability to reform immigration laws. They've been unable to stand up to a vocal minority that opposes comprehensive reform.

Yet our poll - like previous national polls - shows people favor the elements of comprehensive reform. Support for a path to legalization reflects an understanding that migrants crossed the border illegally on their way to jobs. Their labor contributed to our prosperity. Their spirit energized our communities. They are not disposable. They are human beings. And their labor continues to be an asset to our economy. Seventy-three percent of those polled favor a program to identify and put to work foreign workers when needed. This is the guest-worker component of comprehensive reform. It reflects the reality that our nation needs migrant workers.

The Republic's poll also shows people understand that controlling the border means controlling access to jobs. The vast majority of illegal border crossers come here to work - not collect benefits or ferry drugs. Sixty-six percent support a law to require employers to verify the legal status of existing employees. Arizona has an employer-sanctions law. The federal government has long required employers to verify worker status. What's needed is an effective law that will be enforced. States can't do this. Congress must.

Blocking access to jobs is the key to controlling illegal immigration. Channeling workers through the ports of entry would allow the Border Patrol to focus on the real bad guys. It will take years to resolve the court battles and sort out the social and political implications of Arizona's misbegotten immigration law. But public opinion is clear right now. The people of Arizona understand the complexity of a problem that politicians shrink down to bumper-sticker banality. Our poll shows that people want comprehensive immigration reform, despite years of efforts to discredit the idea.

2 comments:

The Arizonian said...

62% support path to citizenship, and 80+% say enact sb1070.....

These are indeed strange times.

G Marshall said...

I firmly believe that illegal immigration is seriously harming many states in this country and do not support amnesty. However even I would support a path to citizenship for people who had been here 10 years, had no criminal record (including DUI) were not receiving government funding for either themselves or children (including free lunch, food stamps). However since I personally know people who started their lives in this country 20 years ago on temporary ag visas (and renewed every year until they received a green card) who still have not been naturalized, I would want those people to be granted citizenship first as they did not ignore the rules in their quest to build a better life for themselves.

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