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New Immigration Poll
A National Survey Of Republican Voter Attitudes
Press Release
Key Findings
Poll Results
The GOP's Border War
by Tamar Jacoby, Los Angeles Times, 10-16-05
Select Articles:
New York Times
The Economist
Wall Street Journal
The Arizona Republic (editorial)
New York Post Op-Ed by Tamar Jacoby
Los Angeles Times Op-Ed by Tamar Jacoby
The Washington Times (editorial)
New York Daily News
San Antonio Express-News
Austin American-Statesman
St. Petersburg Times
Associated Press
United Press International-USA

For a complete list of articles on the New Immigration Poll please contact Communications, (212) 559-7000

October 17, 2005

Contact: Clarice Smith, Press Officer, (212) 599-7000

Earned Legalization and Increased Border Security is Key to Immigration Reform According to Republican Voters: New Poll

WASHINGTON, DC-Confounding expectations, likely Republican voters, do not favor an enforcement-only approach to illegal immigration, according to a new poll of 800 registered “likely” Republican voters conducted by the Tarrance Group for the Manhattan Institute on October 2-5, 2005. On the contrary, the Republican rank and file strongly favor earned legalization for illegal immigrants, and enacting this reform would have a positive impact on their view of Congress and President Bush.

“In examining this data, it is clear that likely Republican voters strongly favor a comprehensive immigration reform plan that combines the stick of tighter borders and tougher enforcement with the carrot of a path to citizenship through an earned legalization process of registration, working, paying taxes, and learning English,” according to Ed Goeas, Principal at the Tarrance Group, the Republican polling firm that conducted the poll.

This new public opinion data indicates that Republican voters do not think it is possible to deport the illegal immigrants already in the country and do not favor an enforcement-only approach often preached by hard-line conservatives. On the contrary, the rank and file want realistic solutions to deal with future immigrants and the millions of undocumented workers already here.

Although hardliners dominate cable television and conservative talk radio with calls to seal the border, the majority of Republican voters believe in sensible, practical immigration reform that includes an earned legalization process and increased border security, according to this new poll.

“The Republican Party is at a turning point,” said Tamar Jacoby, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

One wing—hardliners in the House, supported by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his temporary replacement, Majority Whip Roy Blunt—favors an enforcement-only approach designed, they think, to appeal to the Republican base. Others—the President, Sens. John McCain, John Cornyn and colleagues in the House—say our current policy is so unrealistic that it is all but unenforceable and that we must change the law first, then redouble our efforts to make it stick.

“Our new poll shows that Republican voters see the hardliners’ tough talk for the posturing it is and side with the reformers,” said Jacoby. “Republican voters understand that enforcement-alone will not fix the broken status quo, and they are demanding that the party step up to the plate with a solution worthy of the name.”

According to the new poll, 78% of likely Republican voters favor immigration reform that includes increased border security, tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal workers, a policy that allows illegal immigrants to come forward and register for a temporary worker program that eventually placed them on a path to citizenship. Facing a choice between a registration and earned-legalization plan and a plan that includes deportation and enforcement-only, respondents favored the earned legalization plan 58% to 33%. In addition, 67% of respondents indicate they would have a more favorable view of President Bush if he supported an earned legalization reform plan.

 # # #

The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

October 2005

Key findings from a nationwide survey of registered likely Republican voters [1]

  • More than seven-in-ten (72%) likely Republican voters favor an earned legalization immigration reform plan that would:
    • Provide resources to greatly increase border security,
    • Impose much tougher penalties on employers who hire illegal workers
    • Create a system in which illegal immigrants could come forward and register, pay a fine, and receive a temporary worker permit, and
    • Provide these temporary workers with a multi-year path to citizenship, if they meet certain requirements like living crime free, learning English, and paying taxes.
  • Support for this reform plan stands at above 65% with key demographics like seniors (67%), rural residents (71%), Texas residents (76%), and Midwestern residents (68%).
  • Only 21% of likely Republican voters oppose this reform plan and 7% are unsure. 
  • Fully 71% of likely Republican voters say they would be more likely to support their Member of Congress or a candidate for Congress who supported this reform plan. Only 17% of likely GOP voters indicate they would be less likely to support a Member of Congress or Congressional candidate in this situation.
  • Likely Republican voters were presented with a number of proposed solutions for dealing with the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country. The earned legalization described above received the support of 77% of likely GOP voters. This proposal tested at least 20 points higher than any of the other proposed solutions, including current enforcement only (45% favor), attrition (41% favor), and deporting all 11 million by any means necessary (32% favor).
  • In fact, on an informed question about the measures necessary to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants, including national ID card and government raids on homes and businesses, more than eight-in-ten (84%) of likely GOP voters indicate they believe it is not possible to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants.
  • In addition, 67% of likely GOP voters indicate they would have a more favorable view of President Bush if he supported an immigration reform plan like this one. 
  • The bottom line…This proposed immigration reform plan is remarkably popular among likely GOP voters and enacting this reform would have a positive impact on their view of Congress and would have a positive impact on their view of President Bush.

1.These findings are drawn from telephone interviews with N=807 registered “likely” Republican voters. The confidence interval associated with a sample of this type is 3.5%.  Responses to this survey were gathered October 2-5, 2005.

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