Poll: 71 percent back immigration bill similar to Senate proposal

Voters broadly support an immigration reform proposal that includes a pathway to citizenship, increased border security, employer verification requirements and allowing more high-skilled and guest workers into the country, according to a new poll published Monday.

The FWD.us survey found that 71 percent of all voters, including 74 percent of conservative Republicans and 78 percent of liberal Democrats, supported a plan similar to the Gang of Eight proposal that will begin markup this week in the Senate. Some 68 percent of "swing voters" also say they back the proposal, which has been endorsed by President Obama.

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Republican pollster Jon Lerner says that the across-the-board support can be partially attributed to GOP voters' frustration with the current immigration system.

"Conservative Republicans are most hostile to the current failed system, with a majority believing the present situation is worse for the United States than a new system that would provide a pathway to citizenship and secure the border (52% keeping current system is worse/31% adopting the proposed new system is worse)," Lerner said in a statement "The inclusion of border security and numerous requirements before citizenship is an option makes the bipartisan U.S. Senate proposal supported by a larger margin among conservative Republicans than others.”

Broken into individual parts, more than nine out of every 10 American voters said they support forcing employers to verify the legal status of new hires, and 81 percent back increasing border security. Meanwhile, 64 percent back a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented workers, two-thirds support letting more high-skilled workers into the country and 59 percent back guest worker visas.

The survey also found that supporting the immigration reform package could be a boon to elected officials.

"Supporting the proposal is a net positive for Congressional candidates," said Democratic pollster Jef Pollock in a statement. "Four in ten voters (42%) are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports comprehensive immigration reform, while just 12% say they are less likely to support a candidate who supports it. Among swing voters, a candidate’s support for the measure produces a similarly positive effect."