A new poll from FoxNews finds that 66% of Democrats believe the border should be secured before the nation considers changes to its immigration policies. 75% of Republicans feel the same. Overall, 68% of voters believe securing the border should come before any moves towards legalization.
The “Gang of 8” immigration reform legislation unveiled last week would require Homeland Security to submit to Congress a plan to secure large sections of the border. Upon submission of the plan, immigrants here illegally can apply a provisional visa, making them legal to work and live in the US. After 10 years, they can apply for permanent legal residence and, eventually, citizenship. Supporters claim that the border would have to be secure before the move to permanent resident, but there are a number of exemptions to this in the legislation.
The Fox poll also found voters attitudes on immigration shifting. A majority, 55%, now believe the US should reduce the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country. That is up sharply from 2010, when just 43% felt legal immigration should be reduced.
President Obama’s approval rating on the issue has slipped dramatically. Just 39% approve of his handling of the immigration issue, down from 47% in February. A slim majority, 51%, disapprove of Obama’s handling of it.
President Obama has vowed to play an active role on the immigration issue as talks progress. That may be the least helpful thing he could do.