ICYMI: Calls Increase for a Productive Approach on Immigration

May 8, 2015

‘Poll After Poll Shows … Immigration Is a Winner’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Self-deportation” is off the table. A majority of Americans support the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship. And six in ten support deportation relief for people brought to the country as children, as well as parents of citizens and permanent residents.

Those are the findings, published Thursday, of a new AP-GfK poll.

“I don’t have a problem if they want to earn their citizenship while they are here,” Darlene Harmison, a Republican from Colfax, Iowa, is quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, sounded a firm call to candidates in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday.

“An immigrant-bashing candidate may find that he is alienating not only people in the boardrooms but also people in the pews. Evangelicals may be divided about the best way to fix the immigration system, but they are not divided about immigrants,” Moore writes. “ … An immigrant brother in the next pew is a person to be respected, a creation of God, not a piñata for politicians. ‘Born again’ comes in Spanish as well as English versions—and so do voters.”

On the local level, earlier this week an evangelical pastor from rural Orange City, Iowa, published an op-ed in the Sioux City Journal encouraging candidates to engage in a biblical conversation about immigrants and immigration.

“In our pews every week are people with stories of lives adversely impacted by current policies,” writes the Rev. Jon Opgenorth, senior pastor of Trinity Reformed Church. “There are families torn apart by deportation. There are employers trying to comply with the law but longing for it to change. … We believe the Bible offers significant wisdom on this issue.”

As Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, points out in a new blog post, Republicans in Congress still have an opportunity to change both the content and the tone of the immigration conversation, which would help the party in 2016.

“Long gone are the days of ‘self-deportation,’” Noorani writes. “Republicans have a golden opportunity to get immigration policy right and reap the rewards in 2016. That’s because conservative voters, and a growing number of conservative candidates, want more than silence.

“ … Poll after poll shows that even among conservative voters in early primary states, immigration is a winner.”

The new AP-GfK poll, as well as the local and national voices calling for a constructive conversation on immigration, is only the latest evidence.