Poll: Colorado Republicans support path to citizenship for illegal immigrants

More Republicans than either Democrats or independent voters in Colorado support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, according to a new poll, a contrast to the majority of Colorado’s Republican congressmen.

The poll, conducted by Harper Polling for pro-immigration groups, asked a sample of voters how they feel about an immigration reform plan that grants U.S. citizenship to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, as long as they learn English, pay a penalty, pass a criminal background check and wait a minimum of 13 years to be eligible.

Seventy-seven percent of Republicans polled either strongly supported or somewhat supported the plan, compared to 63 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independent and third party voters.

Republican congressmen Scott Tipton, Cory Gardner and Doug Lamborn said they preferred to focus on border security and guest-worker programs when they were shown the poll results by the Denver Post.

Rep. Mike Coffman told the Post he supported comprehensive reform, but would only consider citizenship for illegal aliens after the border can be independently verified as secure.

The poll was part of a survey of voter attitudes in 12 battleground states and was paid for by Partnership for a New American Economy, Republicans for Immigration Reform, and Compete America, organizations that support a path to citizenship.

By an overwhelming majority, voters of all political stripes felt that Congress was heading in the “wrong direction” on the issue and that the immigration system in the United States is broken.

“Support for immigration reform is broad and especially strong among persuadable independents that Republicans need to win elections,” said Charlie Spies, co-founder of Republicans for Immigration Reform, in a press release.

“There is no question that Republicans have significantly more risk in opposing immigration reform than they do in supporting it,” he said. “If we want Republican majorities in the future and a shot at taking back the White House in 2016, Republicans had better find a way to support the immigration reform that likely voters are calling for.”

More than half of those polled nationally said they would vote against a candidate who opposes immigration reform, but the news for Republican candidates isn’t as clear-cut in Colorado. Forty-six percent of GOP voters said they would vote against candidates opposed to reform, with only 17 percent saying they would vote in favor.

But a full 36 percent of Republicans polled in Colorado were unsure whether opposition to reform would affect their vote.

Tom Tancredo, a leading opponent of this approach to immigration reform, is a Republican candidate for governor.

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