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Poll: Americans Want Immigration Reform, Path to Citizenship

PHOTO: As immigration reform is debated in Washington, D.C., polling finds a majority in America wants something done, including a path to citizenship. CREDIT: Sasha Y. Kimel
PHOTO: As immigration reform is debated in Washington, D.C., polling finds a majority in America wants something done, including a path to citizenship. CREDIT: Sasha Y. Kimel
June 17, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Most Americans believe the country's immigration system needs to be fixed, and a new poll suggests that a majority supports the Senate immigration reform bill drawn up by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight." Those results are not surprising, according to John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

"I think a lot of people from both parties have realized that we've reached critical mass on a major issue of importance to the country, and the only way forward is a bipartisan solution," he asserted. "And that is what's represented by the 'Gang of Eight.'"

In the poll, about 68 percent of respondents said they support the "Gang of Eight" proposal. The survey covered 29 states. Minnesota was not among them, but the most recent state poll found about the same level of support for such a plan.

The proposal includes border enforcement, along with reform of the worker visa program and providing a path to citizenship for those already here. Those changes, said Keller, are needed for the future of the American economy.

"For the entire country and also Minnesota, we're in the middle of a very dramatic demographic change, with the baby boomers retiring in record numbers," he declared. "So, we need replacement workers. We need skilled workers, both high-skilled immigrants and we also need workers in entry-level positions."

In 2011, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that 85,000 immigrants living in Minnesota are not in the U.S. legally and could benefit from the reform legislation.

National poll results are at bit.ly/11YULxC. The most recent Minnesota poll is at bit.ly/14CDFLo.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN