Thursday, April 13, 2006

How Much Do Americans Care About Immigration Reform?

I had mentioned in a previous post that it seems Americans in general are not really very impassioned about the immigration reform debate. A Times/Bloomberg poll published today reflects that same conclusion. I think one of the distinctions people fail to make is that although Americans believe illegal immigration is a problem, a minority (31% according to this particular poll) see it as one of the country’s “major problems.” Marc Cooper has a good discussion about trying to interpret polls on this issue.

I tend to think that those who were proposing enforcement-oriented or enforcement-only policies believed that the country was up in arms, and that their proposals would really resonate. This was a miscalculation, because it helped create the massive rallies we’re seeing all over the country. If the majority of Americans do not care too much about the issue, then there will be no political momentum for a restrictionist bill; on the contrary, there will be tremendous political pressure to pass the opposite. The Senate leadership has already been backpedaling.

Andres Oppenheimer writes that James Sensenbrenner, Lou Dobbs, and Samuel Huntington are the restrictionist “three amigos” who may have actually contributed to the rallies, and thus are partially responsible for the fact that Congress will very likely not pass a restrictionist bill.


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