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Americans Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Poll Shows

September 9, 2011, 11:46 am | Posted by Tara Culp-Ressler

The Public Religion Research Institute recently released the results from a poll about attitudes in an “increasingly diverse” America ten years after September 11th. The poll’s findings on current American views of illegal immigration and the immigration system are encouraging, with the majority of respondents in favor of reforming our system to allow immigrants a path to citizenship–the basic tenet of the DREAM Act.

PRRI immigration graph.png

When asked separately about the best way to approach illegal immigration, a majority of Americans paradoxically respond in favor of both comprehensive immigration reform AND deportation. However, when asked to choose between the two, the poll shows that Americans strongly prefer that approach rather than deportation:

“When Americans are asked to choose between a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that couples enforcement with a path to citizenship on the one hand, and an enforcement and deportation only approach on the other, Americans prefer the comprehensive approach to immigration reform over the enforcement only approach by a large margin. More than 6-in-10 (62 percent) Americans say they prefer a strategy that secures the borders and provides an earned path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, compared to only 36 percent who support a strategy that secures the borders and seeks to arrest and deport all illegal immigrants already in the country.”

It’s clear that a significant majority of Americans recognize the human cost of harsh immigration laws and instead endorse a just, compassionate approach to immigration reform. As I pointed out earlier this week, faith communities have been at the forefront of this debate, opposing restrictive anti-immigration legislation in states like Alabama and Georgia. Just yesterday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced its support for ongoing protests against the new immigration law in Alabama, condemning the law as unjust. With religious leaders and public opinion both on the side of common-sense, common good immigration policy, it’s time for legislators to take notice.

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