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Beltway Confidential

Poll says 71% back immigration reform if it includes secure borders

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Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Immigration,Polls,Border Security

A new poll published by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a center-left group, said 71 percent of Americans support immigration reform.

The group cites its poll as proof that a "majority of Americans will hold elected official[s] accountable" if they don't support reform.

What the group does not say is that the reform Americans want includes "secur[ing] our borders" and an "employer verification program," according to the group's own poll.

In other words, a bill that includes the elements Republicans have called for and Democrats have resisted.

Here's how the partnership characterizes the poll in its press release: "At the outset of the midterm elections, these new results demonstrate that a vast majority of voters nationwide — 71 percent — are in favor of immigration reform and will vote for their elected officials accordingly."

The release quotes New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a co-chair of the group, as saying: "Americans across the country want their leaders to support smart immigration reform, because they know it will drive economic growth, create jobs, and keep our nation’s future bright."

It is true that the poll shows wide support -- 41 percent with "strong support" and 30 percent who "somewhat support" -- for some kind of immigration reform, but the wording of the question makes clear that it should include several conservative provisions:

Do you support or oppose an immigration reform plan that secures our borders, expands visas for high-skill workers and farm workers, provides an employer verification program, allows young persons brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents an opportunity to earn citizenship, and provides visas to live and work here legally to undocumented immigrants without a criminal record who pay penalties and back taxes?

A major bone of contention in the congressional immigration reform debate is whether the section securing borders would go into effect first or later.

Most Republicans want a provision whereby securing the border would "trigger" the rest of the provisions. Democrats want everything to go into effect all at once, which would render the border security provisions difficult to enforce.

The poll does not distinguish between which version it is discussing, meaning respondents could have taken it either way.

The survey, by Harper Polling, is based on 900 "likely voters" and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.27 percent.

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