New poll shows little voter support for immigration deal

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The main provisions in the Senate’s pending immigration bill are as popular among voters as a skunk at a wedding, according to a new poll.

“The bill’s idea that more immigration will put more Americans to work was supported by only 24 percent of union households, 23 percent of Catholics, 14 percent of Evangelicals, 8 percent of high school grads, 14 percent of both conservatives and moderates, 18 percent of independents and 13 percent of Republicans,” read a statement from NumbersUSA, which sponsored the poll.

NumbersUSA is an advocacy group that seek to shrink the annual inflow of 1 million immigrants and 700,000 temporary guest-workers.

However, it is not clear if the public will punish legislators in 2014 or 2016 for backing the sweeping changes.

Few articles or TV segments describe the scale and scope of the deal, and most portray it favorably as a job-boosting, border-securing compromise. Supporters of the bill have spent much money on lobbying, advertising, polls and outreach to friendly media.

The bill is also strongly backed by President Back Obama, who has boosted its support among Democrats above the levels seen during the 2007 immigration fight.

“It is the right thing to do… [and] it is ultimately in the interests of the Republican Party,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday.

The NumbersUSA poll paints a very different picture from other polls, many of which have been promoted by the bill’s supporters. The discordant results can be seen in a June 19 poll by Gallup, which showed that 87 percent of voters support an amnesty if illegal immigrants comply with several conditions, and 83 percent support stiffer border controls.

“Although Americans’ widespread support for the six immigration proposals seems to suggest they would favor the type of bill the Senate is currently debating, this may not necessarily be the case … [and] when Americans were asked in a May Gallup poll about a list of 12 priorities for the president and Congress, they ranked reforming immigration last,” read a Gallup statement.

Other polls show a similar mix of attitudes that reflect Americans’ concurrent desires to welcome legal immigrants, and to also improve their own job security and wages.

The bill would provide work-permits to at least 11 million illegal immigrants and welcome an additional 35 million people into the country — most of whom will be low-skilled —- over the next 20 years.

The bill would also invite in several million high-skill graduates, who will compete for jobs against American graduates.

It would lower average wages, employment and education for at least a decade, and would shift more of the nation’s annual  income from wages to property owners for at least 20 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

According to the NumbersUSA poll, “every demographic group showed low support for the bill’s increase in less-educated foreign workers, including Republicans (7 percent), moderates (8 percent), high school grads (4 percent), Hispanics (19 percent) and the young age 18-39 (14 percent),” said the statement.

In 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lost by 5 million votes, partly because a large GOP-leaning cohort of roughly 6 million working-class voters chose not to vote.

White voters comprised roughly 74 percent of the electorate, while Hispanic voters comprised only 8.4 of the electorate. President Barack Obama won 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, but only 40 percent of the white vote.

“Perhaps Republicans’ corporate donors are cheered by a bill that the Congressional Budget Office finds would lower the wages of American workers by pouring too many foreign workers into the labor market,” said a statement from Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA. “But the poll shows that the demographic groups who tend to provide the votes to put Republicans into office won’t be at all pleased if senators vote for the bill’s huge increases in immigrant workers.”

The poll also showed that the voters oppose the bill’s proposal to provide work permits to illegal immigrants prior to a confirmed improvement in border security.

If it becomes law, the bill would triple the inflow of immigrants to roughly 30 million over the next 10 years. Over 20 years, an estimated 46 million people would arrive or be legalized.

The inflow is backed by progressive groups and by business groups, partly because it would provide additional labor and customers. (RELATED: CBO says immigration bill aids investors, not wage earners)

Roughly 90 percent of the immigrants will be low-skilled, and will not earn enough money to pay for the routine taxpayer aid provided to all low-skilled Americans by taxpayers, according to an analysis put out by the Heritage Foundation.

The bill also doubles the inflow of university-trained guest workers, who will compete for jobs against the American professionals who now pay a large slice of overall taxes, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, a non-profit that promotes reducing levels of immigration to the United States.

The bill would also provide many new legal protections for illegal immigrants, making it more difficult and more expensive for any additional border security forces to detain and deport undocumented migrants, according to the bill’s proponents.

A new report by the Congressional Budget Office said the doubled guest-worker provisions of the new bill would spur some forms of illegal immigration.

The controversial “border surge” amendment would have no impact on illegal overstays by blue-collar or professional-class guest-workers.

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