National Immigration Forum

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New Poll: Voters Want Immigrants on the Tax Rolls

January 12, 2010 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

tax form

We wrote in a previous blog post about a new report that projects a positive impact on the economy of $1.5 trillion and billions of dollars in additional tax revenue if Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants who are here working.  On January 11, our friends over at America’s Voice released a new poll showing that those additional taxes are just what the public would like.

America’s Voice contracted with the Benenson Strategy Group, which contacted 800 “likely” 2010 general election voters.  Voters were asked a number of questions about immigration and immigration reform.  The poll was conducted from December 19 to 21, 2009.

Voters were asked whether they think the issue of illegal immigration should be a high priority for Congress.  More than half (55%) think it should be, even with all the other issues Congress is facing.

While voters think that illegal immigration should be a high priority, the economy remains the top concern, with 62% of voters naming it as one of the top “two or three” issues Congress should focus on.  Health care was next at 60%.  A whopping 94% of Americans think that economic conditions currently are "poor" or "fair."

Nearly half of the respondents (48%), believe that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes.  Getting those immigrants to pay taxes is very much preferred over forcing them to leave the country.  By a more than two-to-one margin (67% to 28%), survey respondents believe "We would be better off if people who are in the United States illegally became legal taxpayers so they pay their fair share" verses forcing them to leave the country "because they are taking away jobs that Americans need."

The survey also tied together the concern about the economy and the concern that undocumented immigrants are not paying their fair share of taxes.  When asked which of two statements best described their views, more than half said they supported the statement that "The economic crisis we are currently in makes it more crucial than ever that we solve our immigration problems."  The elements of comprehensive reform were described, including moving undocumented immigrants "out of the shadows and on to the tax rolls."

Public support for comprehensive immigration reform has been fairly steady for several years.  This latest poll tells us, again, that the public holds more pragmatic views on immigration reform than do some of our politicians.  When it comes to immigration reform and the economy, voters would rather see undocumented immigrants pay their taxes and join the club.

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