The Inclusive American Spirit

Public opinion on comprehensive immigration reform is quite clear, Americans want workable solutions in order for us to move forward as a nation. Polls by major news stations, both national and local, show that the American public supports providing a way for illegal immigrants already living in the United States to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country, provided they have a job and pay back taxes.

Most Americans favor comprehensive immigration reform, but instead policymakers focus on border security and the 14th Amendment. A recent nationwide telephone survey by Public Religion Research (PRR) points out a clear set of values that 8-in-10 Americans agree should guide immigration reform policy: 

•enforcing the rule of law and promoting national security (88%),
•ensuring fairness to taxpayers (84%);
•protecting the dignity of every person (82%);
•keeping families together (80%)

Policymakers and the media have so far only focused on the first two, but the overwhelming support for providing a legal way for illegal immigrants already in the United States to become U.S. citizens demonstrates that the latter two values are just as important. A strong majority (71%) supports “providing immigrants the same opportunity that I would want if my family were immigrating to the U.S.”

In order for us to move forward as a nation, we need to focus on fixing our immigration system. According to the PRR survey, Americans already know this:

•More than two-thirds of the public say the inability of the immigration system to deal with illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. and the inability to properly secure the border are very serious or extremely serious problems (68% and 67% respectively).
•A majority (56%) of Americans say the immigration system is completely or mostly broken. Only 7% say the system is generally working, and about one-third (34%) say the system is working but with some major problems.
•Six-in-ten Americans believe that it is somewhat (43%) or very difficult (17%) for immigrants to come to the U.S. legally today.

“Tunnel vision” on border security and birth-right citizenship does little to encourage the kind of broad, systemic solutions that Americans clearly want.  Further, this misguided focus detracts from the human element in immigration by ignoring the nation’s values of honoring human dignity, keeping families intact, and promoting opportunity.  Now is the time for real solutions that echo these values and reflect the public desire to repair and improve the immigration system. 

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

Tags: immigration, Opportunity, Values (all tags)

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