Lawmakers in Washington, from the president down to first-term members of Congress, may be misjudging how the public feels about immigration.
President Donald Trump appears to believe the country needs and wants hard-line policies. Members of Congress haven’t stopped him from carrying out those policies.
Do the American people really support them?
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It turns out that government officials who think the majority of Americans want hard-line immigration policies are
Elected officials – both Republican and Democratic – tend to think that their constituents are more conservative than they actually are on immigration and other issues. Moreover, recent research suggests that Republican constituents have been more likely to contact their elected officials than Democratic constituents.
Yet, my research on public opinion about immigration, and that of other social scientists, shows that the American public is supportive of more welcoming immigration policies. Welcoming policies might include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, accepting more asylum claims or allowing the use of multiple languages in public places.
Most Americans support a path to citizenship
I am a scholar of public opinion about immigration and national identity, and I have studied how people from a variety of backgrounds feel about immigration-driven diversity in the United States.
Let’s look at public opinion on one immigration proposal that has been debated for over a decade: providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Since late 2007, polls conducted by CBS and The New York Times have asked respondents which option they prefer when it comes to “illegal immigrants working in the United States.” The options include: allow them to stay in their jobs and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship; allow them to stay only as guest workers but not apply for citizenship; or require them to leave their jobs and the country.
By Deborah Schildkraut for CNBC
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