Immigration Reform: Ohioans Agree the Time is Now
COLUMBUS, Ohio - As the U.S. Senate debates sweeping immigration reform legislation, a new poll of Ohioans has found overwhelming public approval of those reforms. Sixty-one percent of likely voters surveyed in the state said they support legislation that would secure the U.S. borders and allow undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status - the plan outlined by the so-called "Gang of Eight."
The poll also found that 85 percent want the immigration system fixed this year. That did not surprise Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.
"There's a sense of urgency around immigration reform," Sittenfeld said. "People do support a 'tough but fair' path to citizenship. Citizens expect this to be dealt with soon."
Ohio's rate of undocumented residents is higher than the national average, with an estimated 110,000 who could benefit from the reform legislation. The same poll was taken in 28 other states, and the levels of support were similar - or even higher.
The survey by Harper Polling was commissioned by a coalition of immigration reform groups, from both sides of the political aisle. Harper President Brock McCleary said the immigration proposal, S 744, is bipartisan - and so is public support for it.
"Republicans - conservative, moderate, whatever they may be - have found that impeding progress on reform, standing in the way of getting this problem solved, has really exacerbated it."
Sittenfeld said immigration reform is necessary to grow the economy and create jobs. He is convinced that Ohioans understand the need to stay competitive on a global scale, he added.
"We need to be welcoming and inclusive and diverse, so that we have the best talent in the world, that we're not keeping some folks away, that we're not a country where we're splitting families apart. That's important to people."
Sittenfeld added that he is encouraged by the support the legislation is getting from Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, as well as House Speaker John Boehner. He said he suspects they will lead the charge to help make immigration reform a reality this year.
The full poll results by state are available at http://americasvoiceonline.org.