National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

Deferred Action Policy Gets Favorable Rating Among Voters

July 06, 2012 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Since the Administration’s announcement three weeks ago that it would grant deferred action to certain young people who were brought here by their parents, two public opinion polls have measured voter reaction to the shift in policy. Both polls were taken in the wake of President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s address on immigration at the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

Swing States Poll
Quinnipiac University released a survey on June 27 of voters in three states considered to be swing states in the upcoming presidential election: Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. Voters were asked whether they supported or opposed the administration’s “new policy in which young illegal immigrants who came to the country as children will be able to obtain work permits and will not face deportation.” In Pennsylvania, just over half of voters—51%—said they approved of the new policy while 41% opposed. In Ohio, the gap was larger—52% to 38%—and in Florida, voters were even more favorable, 58% to 33%. Quinnipiac noted that in the wake of the announcement, Mr. Obama’s standing among Latino voters in Florida has risen markedly, with 58% saying they would back President Obama compared with 49% who said so just one week earlier.

National Poll
NBC News, the Wall Street Journal, and Telemundo cooperated on a national poll of adults conducted June 20 to 24. The Administration’s deferred action policy was described to those telephoned for the survey, and they were asked whether they supported or opposed the policy. Among all respondents, 68% favored the policy and among Latinos, support was 87%. According to this poll, Obama is viewed favorably by 61% of Latinos, compared to Mr. Romney’s 26% favorable rating.

The two polls reinforce the idea that, by speaking harshly about immigrants, politicians are not (at a minimum) gaining a political advantage in a general election context nationwide or—in the key swing states tested—statewide.

Representatives Launch Effort to Stop Popular Program
Meanwhile, as we reported in a previous policy update, House Republicans have introduced legislation that would prevent the President from carrying out this popular policy. Fortunately for Mr. Romney, these measures will not likely create more damage for him in the immigration arena, as they will not be taken up by the Senate.

This week, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who has been the most persistent critic of the Administration’s focus on national security and public safety threats in immigration enforcement, sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton with his concerns about the potential for fraud in the deferred action program. “History has proven that amnesty is an open invitation to fraud,” Rep. Smith wrote to Director Morton. He then went on to cite problems with the 1980’s Special Agricultural Workers (SAWs) program, through which a number of undocumented immigrants gained legal status fraudulently. The implementation of that program, however, was conducted by the predecessor agency to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (the Immigration and Naturalization Service) long before the adoption of numerous security programs now in place to check on the background of individuals seeking immigration benefits. In fact, at the time the SAWs program was being implemented, the agency was largely paper-based.

In any event, it will be USCIS, not ICE, that will be implementing the deferred action program and conducting the background checks. A process for adjudicating requests for deferred action is expected to be announced on or around August 15. For information on the Administration’s deferred action policy, see our Web site.

Crossroads Campaign Solutions