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FILE --- A group of Iowa voters listen to U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich speak at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center in Independence, Iowa, Jan. 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes) FILE --- A group of Iowa voters listen to U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich speak at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center in Independence, Iowa, Jan. 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)  

Iowa’s swing voters oppose pro-amnesty candidates

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that independent voters and the GOP’s base sharply disagree with the business-backed push for increased immigration.

Forty-eight percent of independent voters in Iowa are less likely to back a politician who supports a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants, according to the poll conducted from Dec. 10 to Dec. 15.

Only 16 percent of independents said they would be more likely support a pro-legalization candidate for the Senate. Thirty-one percent of the independent voters said the issue would not make a difference in their vote.

GOP voters are even more lopsided. Sixty-three percent said they’d be less likely, and 13 percent said they’d be more likely, to vote for an amnesty-supporting candidate.

The poll clashes with claims by immigration advocates of growing public support for legalization of immigrants. Those advocates include supporters of a multi-stage legalization, also called a path to citizenship, or else the award of legal residency and work-permits.

For example, Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said in a Wednesday media briefing about immigration, that “all the recent polling that we have seen the needle of public opinion support within the conservative ranks move towards support” of an immigration reform bill. The bill need not offer citizenship, he said, because people who are here illegally would accept a residency permit.

The polls are important because the House may vote on a series of immigration-increasing bills in early 2014.

The new poll did not quiz voters about their support for candidates who back an increased inflow of workers. An August poll commissioned by a reform group showed that only two percent of respondents strongly back laws allowing businesses to bring in immigrant workers instead of hiring younger Americans. The group, NumbersUSA, want to reduce immigration below the current rate of one million per year, and opposes a June Senate bill that would triple the legal immigration rate to roughly 30 million people over the next decade.

GOP politicians, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, have repeatedly endorsed immigration plans that would allow companies to hire foreign workers instead of Americans. Ryan is widely expected to lead the effort for passage of an worker-immigration bill in the new year.

On Dec. 16 radio interview, Ryan endorsed an increased inflow of foreign workers. ”A legal immigration system that’s wired for your economy. … That is good for us, good for America, good for the Republicans,” Ryan told Charles Sykes, the 620 WTMJ radio interviewer.

“You raise wages too much in certain industries, then you’ll get rid of those industries, and we’ll just have to import” products, Ryan said in a July 25 interview with National Journal.

Ryan’s close ally and friend, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is preparing to run for president on cheap labor platform.

“I don’t care whether it is from Mexico, or India or Germany or Ireland or anywhere else around the world, if we have people who want to come here and work hard and live the American dream, we should embrace those people,” Walker told reporters at a November breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor.

Cardenas also endorsed an increased labor inflow in his press conference, which was hosted by the National Immigration Forum. ”We’ve got a looming shortage of labor coming forth in the next decade of so, and we don’t really have a legal immigration system in place that meets the needs of America’s workforce. … we need to have a viable and fair immigration reform,” he said.

In contrast, other GOP leaders, including Sen. Jeff Sessions, say the U.S. should raise wages by limiting immigration. That policy, he said, would boost support and turnout for future GOP presidential candidates, he said.

The Quinnipiac poll shows that Democratic voters were eager to support a pro-legalization candidate. Forty-six percent of Democratic voters endorsed an amnesty-backing candidate, while only 22 percent said they disapproved.

The Iowa poll also quizzed respondents about the 2014 Senate race, and showed the Democratic candidate, Bruce Braley, ahead of all GOP rivals.

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