Poll: 1-in-5 Americans Strongly Back Obama’s Amnesty

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

A new poll shows that only 21 percent of Americans strongly support President Barack Obama’s plan to block deportations of illegal immigrants.

In contrast, 33 percent of respondents strongly oppose Obama’s Nov. 21 amnesty, which was favorably described in the YouGov poll as “plans to halt deportations for as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants, such as parents, those who came to the U.S. as children and others with long-standing ties to the country.”

The poll of adults was taken over three days, Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, ensuring many respondents gave their answers before knowing the contents of Obama’s edict. Also, polls of likely voters tend to show greater skepticism towards Obama’s immigration policies.

Obama’s amnesty awards work permits to roughly one-third of the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the country. It also gives four million illegals access to tax benefits and government aid, sharply boosts the number of guest-workers who are invited to take jobs sought by U.S. graduates and dismantles border protections, even though unemployment is high and wages have been stalled since 2000.

The poll — which was done for the left-of-center Huffington Post site — asks adult Americans if they “strongly or “somewhat” oppose or support Obama’s policies. That’s useful, because it helps reveal respondents’ true priorities rather than their public statements, such as a claimed loyalty to a particular group or politician.

For example, 51 percent of African-Americans told YouGov they would support Obama’s new policy, which will force them to compete with more low-skill, low-wage workers from Latin American and Asia. Thirty-three percent say they would oppose his policy.

But that 51 percent to 33 percent split is misleading, because the YouGov poll also shows that only 30 percent of African-Americans strongly support Obama’s policy, while 23 percent strongly oppose his policy.

Similarly, only 38 percent of Hispanics strongly support Obama’s amnesty, while 12 percent strongly oppose the amnesty.

Moreover, 21 percent of Hispanics say they’re not sure of their views. That’s almost twice the 12 percent in the overall poll who said they’re not sure. That spike suggests many Latinos are reluctant to endorse Obama’s amnesty plan, despite demands for ethnic solidarity by Latino advocates, Democrats and Spanish-language TV.

The Nov. 4 midterm election results reinforced that suggestion, where 35 percent of Hispanics supported GOP candidates in the privacy of the voting booth.

Media reports about the poll minimized the scale and intensity of public opposition. “Americans are not crazy about the idea of undocumented immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens being allowed to stay in the country without being able to work,” said a report in Huffington Post.

The YouGov poll was published one day after Rasmussen released a poll showing 50 percent opposition, 40 percent support, for Obama’s plan.

The YouGov poll, with its emphasis on children and parents, also shows a big gender gap. Forty-percent of men — but only 26 percent of women — strongly oppose Obama’s policy.

The distribution of immigrants also shapes the results.

 

For example, 26 percent of respondents in the West strongly supported Obama’s policy, while only 16 percent of people in the midwest strongly approve.

Thirty-five percent of respondents in the midwest strongly disapprove of Obama’s amnesty. That’s a problem for Democrats, because the West is already locked up for them in 2016, but it is an opportunity for the GOP’s populist wing, which seeks to win midwest states in 2016 by appealing to lower-income voters.

That populist option is bolstered by the YouGov’s poll, which shows that swing-voting independents strongly oppose the measure, 33 percent to 17 percent.

The poll shows the GOP is also more united that the Democrats. Four percent of GOP respondents strongly back Obama’s poll, while 12 percent of Democrats strongly oppose the amnesty.

However, the GOP members who support the poll tend to be in the GOP’s dominant establishment wing, which includes many company owners, donors and inside-the-beltway strategists.

The poll also suggests public opinion is hardening against immigration. Twenty-one percent strongly supported the most emotional question in the survey —“Do you support or oppose allowing undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country?” But 30 percent of respondents strongly opposed the “let the children stay” question.

Evidence for that hardening turns up in a poll released Nov. 25 by the Quinnipiac University.

“48 percent of American voters say [illegal immigrants] should be allowed to stay, with a path to citizenship, down from 57 percent in November 13, 2013, and the lowest this number ever has been… [also] 35 percent say illegal immigrants should be required to leave the U.S., up from 26 percent 12 months ago and higher than this number ever has been,” reported Quinnipiac.

The hardening is significant because most Americans want to be seen supporting the nation’s cherished tradition of immigration, and are generally reluctant to be seen criticizing immigration or immigrants.

The Quinnipiac poll also allowed Americans an indirect means to comment on Obama’s amnesty policy — without raising the issue of immigration — by asking them to rate the president’s overall performance. “American voters give Obama a negative 39 – 54 percent approval rating, close to his lowest-ever 38 – 57 percent score in a December 10, 2013.”

Neither the Quinnipiac or YouGov polls asked respondents about concerns over the amnesty’ impact on Americans’ ability to get good jobs. In other polls, Americans responded with overwhelming support for Americans over illegals to jobs and amnesty questions.

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