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.
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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.
Key findings from a nationwide survey of registered likely Republican voters 
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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