Republicans are dangerously playing with fire on amnesty

Republicans are dangerously playing with fire on amnesty
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers considering voting for the “compromise” amnesty bill that Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign Blue wave poses governing risks for Dems Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests MORE (R-Wis.) is pushing should know before they cast their vote that any Republican voting for amnesty is playing with fire.

I have been telling them that for years, based on my conversations with grassroots activists all over the country. Now, to back that up, are the results of a national poll. John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates conducted the survey for Tea Party Patriots Action. The survey, fielded earlier this month, polled 1,000 likely voters across the nation and has a margin of error of 3 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval.

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The poll numbers clearly show that voters do not support amnesty, and that they will be more likely to punish Republicans who vote for amnesty. To any House Republican who is facing a difficult reelection campaign and may be allowing political considerations to influence your vote on the amnesty bill, you have been put on notice.

A look at the crosstabs is all the proof I need to make the point. By a margin of 42 percent to 25 percent among all likely voters, and by a margin of 61 percent to 18 percent among Republican voters and 59 percent to 19 percent among Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE voters, survey respondents said they would be less likely to vote to reelect a Republican member of Congress who voted to provide amnesty for a group of illegal immigrants.

That would be a tremendous loss of support among Republican base voters. The incremental “gain” that Republican lawmakers may think they are getting by voting for amnesty is virtually nonexistent. Among Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE voters, the 30 percent who say they would be more likely to elect a Republican who voted for amnesty are negated by the 26 percent who say they would be less likely. For Democrats, 30 percent say they would be more likely to elect a Republican lawmaker who voted for amnesty, while 28 percent say they would be less likely.

Moreover, 75 percent of all likely voters do not think it is fair or right to allow a particular group of illegal immigrants to “jump the line,” compared to just 11 percent who think it is fair. Those numbers hold across virtually all demographic subgroups. Among Trump voters, the margin is 86 percent to 8 percent. Among Republican voters, it is 87 percent to 8 percent. Even Clinton voters, at a margin of 62 percent to 16 percent, and Democrats, at a margin of 61 percent to 18 percent, do not think it is fair.

Of course, it is no wonder. Americans have seen this kind of proposed deal before, and they have been burned. In 1986, when Congress passed and President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to three million illegal immigrants in exchange for a promise to secure the border and end illegal immigration. The amnesty was granted, but the border was never secured, and illegal immigration continued, virtually unabated, for the next three decades.

Not surprisingly, by a margin of 50 percent to 33 percent, voters do not trust the government to follow through on a promise to secure the border and end illegal immigration in exchange for amnesty for some now. Again, House Republicans should pay attention. Among Trump voters, it is 41 percent who trust against 48 percent who do not. Among Republican voters, it is 41 percent who trust against 49 percent who do not. Among conservative voters, it is 36 percent who trust, against 53 percent who do not. Among voters over 55 years of age, a key group in any midterm election, it is 28 percent who trust, against 56 percent who do not.

Furthermore, Republican lawmakers should know that Americans just do not support a pathway to citizenship for a group of illegal immigrants. Just over one in five, at 22 percent, supports a pathway to citizenship for the “Dreamers.” Just under one in three, at 32 percent, supports a legal status without a pathway to citizenship. But a full 38 percent of voters believes illegal immigrants should receive no reward at all.

But here is where any wavering House Republicans should really pay attention. Among Trump voters, fully 60 percent oppose a reward, while just 7 percent support a pathway to citizenship. Among Republican voters, 59 percent oppose a reward, while just 8 percent support a pathway to citizenship. The facts demonstrate that voting for the amnesty bill would inflict damage from which few Republicans could recover.

Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.