When President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (commonly referred to as DACA) in June 2012, immigrant rights advocates cheered this move as a step in the right direction towards the country seeing real movement in the context of comprehensive immigration reform. Later, when the Senate approved a comprehensive package of immigration reform legislation, advocates and foreign nationals alike again praised the U.S. government for making good on its word and working diligently on revamping American immigration laws.
However, since the Senate approved its own immigration reform, the issue has stalled in the House of Representatives, with the result that the U.S. still does not have new or revised immigration laws as of June 2014, a full two years after the Obama administration enacted the DACA policy.
Although it is easy to become disheartened or discouraged when faced with a two-year delay, a survey conducted by the Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute showed that the majority of Americans (specifically, 62% of respondents to the survey) still favor immigration reform. These respondents indicated that they favor establishing parameters for unauthorized foreign nationals currently in the U.S. to become citizens one day. Only 17% of respondents reported that these unauthorized foreign nationals should be able to receive green cards but not citizenship, and only 19% stated that this demographic should be placed into deportation proceedings.
The researchers who conducted this poll state that its results indicate that Americans now have a slightly more positive outlook regarding the role of unauthorized foreign nationals in the U.S. and that they are equally likely to say that unauthorized immigration helps the U.S. economy (by providing businesses with low-cost workers) as they are to say that unauthorized immigration hurts the U.S. economy (by decreasing wages for American workers).
While this increasingly positive attitude toward the undocumented population in the U.S. is certainly good for public opinion and outreach efforts, the researchers warn that the results should not be interpreted to mean that the majority of Americans have placed immigration reform at the top of their priority lists for their Congressional representatives. Instead, Americans have ranked immigration reform much lower on the list of legislative priorities when compared to other hot button issues such as healthcare, jobs for U.S. Americans, and overall economic recovery efforts.
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In the wake of this survey, it is interesting to note that Eric Cantor, the longtime Congressional Representative and House Majority Leader, was recently unseated by little known candidate David Brat. Many Republicans are calling Mr. Cantor’s unseating an unspoken referendum on immigration reform, since Mr. Brat reportedly takes a much firmer line on ensuring that the unauthorized foreign national population be put into removal proceedings rather than be granted green card or citizenship opportunities.
The immigration lawyers at https://www.immigrantings.com, along with our readers, are still anxiously awaiting any movement on the comprehensive immigration reform legislation that is stuck in the House of Representatives. It is our hope that the results of this recent survey will spur lawmakers into action and illustrate the continued need for immigration reform if the U.S. economy is ever to truly recover from the collapse.
Additional Blog Posts
What Employers Should Know About Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, ImmigRantings, November 28, 2012
The ‘Majority’s Majority’ and Immigration Reform, ImmigRantings, November 8, 2013