Survey: Americans hungry for immigration reform

06/02/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Pro-immigration groups from South Florida and around the country will gather in Washington later this week to pressure President Barack Obama to address immigration reform in his first year in office.

To convince the President and members of Congress that comprehensive immigration reform, and not handling illegal immigrants punitively, is what the American people want, advocates today released new poll numbers.

Pollster Peter Brodnitz is with the Benenson Strategy Group. He said 67 percent of Americans support a comprehensive approach. And Brodnitz said that despite a crowded agenda that includes health care and energy reform, 59 percent of those surveyed said they wanted the president to work on an immigration plan this year.

Celinda Lake is a Democratic Party pollster who also worked on the survey for the group, America’s Voice. She held focus groups across the country to measure opinions on the immigration issue. She said those encounters were held in cities across the country, spread across racial and ethnic lines, and the results were all consistently pro-immigration reform.

She said people want to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. And Lake said when people in her focus groups did have criticism of illegal immigrants, it was about provisions which they believe are too harsh.

Frank Sharry is founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group formed a year ago to focus on communications and media as part of renewed effort to get comprehensive immigration reform passed.

Simon Rosenberg is with the New Democratic Network. When asked how he thought the politics in Washington had changed since immigration reform stalled in 2007, he said the country has shifted more liberal in the last year, with Obama now president and the Democrats in larger control of Congress. He also was encouraged by the number of Republicans in the new survey showing support for comprehensive reform, saying they may finally get it, politically.

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