Attention GOP Lawmakers: Most Arizonans Support Pathway to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants

As if the ouster of former Senator Russell Pearce wasn't enough of a signal to border-hawk Arizona politicos that it's time to perhaps reassess their positions on immigration, a poll released yesterday shows that the majority of Arizonans prefer a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as opposed to simply booting them back to their native countries.

Believe it or not, even the majority of Arizona Republicans like the idea of a pathway to citizenship, the poll shows.

According to the survey, conducted by Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 78 percent of Arizonans would support legislation allowing undocumented "long-time" residents to become citizens "if they pay a fine, pass a criminal background check here and their nation of origin, get a taxpayer I.D. number and demonstrate they can speak English."

"The issue of illegal immigration is much more complex than most people realize," Dr. Bruce Merrill, senior research fellow at Morrison Institute and the poll's director, says. "People see the issues of border enforcement and what to do about undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for many years, many with children who are American citizens, as separate issues. This poll shows that while almost all Arizonans want stronger enforcement of border security, people also are strongly in favor of some sort of earned citizenship program."

The idea of granting citizenship to undocumented people who've been in the country for an extended period of time, as Merrill points out, is in contrast to the positions taken by many of the Arizona's far-right-wing lawmakers -- especially Pearce, who staunchly opposes the DREAM Act and other legislative pathways to citizenship.

According to the poll, more than 66 percent of Arizona Republicans surveyed favor a pathway to citizenship, while more than 80 percent of Democrats and Independents support the idea.

As we mentioned yesterday, Pearce's recall election -- and now the results of this survey -- should serve as a message to other Republican lawmakers that they need to take a more moderate approach to immigration reform -- unless they want to go the route of their now-ousted leader.

For additional details about the poll, visit the Morrison Institute's website here.

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James King
Contact: James King