Utahns on immigration reform: Congress, get the job done

Many immigrants say they'd be willing to follow the rigorous process outlined in the "Gang of Eight" legislation to become U.S. citizens.

SALT LAKE CITY – More than 70 percent of Utah voters have told pollsters they support the federal immigration reform legislation crafted by the so-called “Gang of Eight” – and there are similar polling results in 28 other states. For people now in the U.S. illegally, the Senate bill (S 744) outlines a rigorous, 13-year plan for earning citizenship that includes paying a penalty, passing a criminal background check, learning English and paying taxes.

Frank Sharry, executive director, America’s Voice, one of the groups that co-sponsored <a href=”http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/voters-in-29-states-overwhelmingly-back-bipartisan-senate-immigration-bill/” target=”parent”>the poll</a>, said the legislation has bipartisan support, and now it just has to get over the finish line in Congress.

“I think they’ve really got the policy right, and I think the American people recognize it,” Sharry said. “They’re not experts on the policy, but they get it: If we do the right things, we can be a nation of immigrants <em>and</em> a nation of laws, rather than neither.”

In 2011, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that at least 110,000 immigrants living in Utah are not in the U.S. legally and could benefit from the reform legislation. They make up almost 4 percent of the state’s population and 5.4 percent of its workforce.

More than half of the 525 people surveyed this month in Utah said they are Republicans, and two-thirds said it is “very important” that the nation fixes the immigration system this year. Charles Spies, co-founder and treasurer of Republicans for Immigration Reform, a political action committee, said that figure is in line with other states’ results, as well.

“This shows that Republican voters across 29 states overwhelmingly support the bipartisan approach of the ‘Gang of Eight’ bill – and also believe that it’s time to get it done,” Spies said.

Sixty-four percent of Utahns polled also said they would be more likely to vote for an elected official who supports this legislation. Utah’s senators split on the issue: Sen. Orrin Hatch voted to move the bill to the Senate floor for debate, Sen. Mike Lee voted ‘no.’ Some lawmakers still see any path to citizenship as a form of amnesty.

The full poll results by state are available at <a href=”http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/voters-in-29-states-overwhelmingly-back-bipartisan-senate-immigration-bill/” target=”parent”>americasvoiceonline.org</a>.

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