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Poll: Majority in TN Want Immigration Reform, Path to Citizenship

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

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Most Tennesseans believe the country's immigration reform system needs to be fixed, and a new poll also has found majority support for the U.S. Senate bill crafted by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight." The legislation includes a rigorous path to citizenship.

Yuri Cunza, president, Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said it's the right thing to do, economically.

"Small businesses make up a majority of what fuels our American economy, so we need to start considering different perspectives," he said. "Putting emotions aside, we know that this is an economic imperative."

In the poll, 75 percent of Tennessee respondents said there should be a path to citizenship, and nearly two-in-three said they support the "Gang of Eight" proposal. The bill also includes a focus on border enforcement, Cunza noted.

"We need to follow the rule of law and send the right message," he said. "Yet we cannot continue looking the other way and denying the presence of 11-million-plus individuals who are not in current immigration status in the country."

In addition to the citizenship path and border enforcement, the plan would also reform the immigrant visa system, said Eben Cathey, communications coordinator, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.

"If we can do those three things, which is what the Senate bill is asking, we are going to have an immigration system that works. This is a unique position where our country can do not only the right thing, but can do the economic thing and do the practical thing. And it's going to work for us," he said.

In 2011, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that 140,000 immigrants living in Tennessee are not in the U.S. legally and could benefit from the reform legislation.

The full poll results are available at http://americasvoiceonline.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN