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NumbersUSA survey offers a more nuanced look at the opposition to White House/Senate immigration bill


Advocates for the Senate immigration bill have a tough sell. How do you convince a public whose chief concern is jobs to support a bill that would increase permanent work permits for new immigrant workers from 10 million over the next decade to 20 million? 

Answer: Don't mention the numbers!

NumbersUSA's August survey of likely voters, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, did include the numbers and the results were not surprising:

  • Only 28% support the Senate bill's provisions to double immigration over the next decade; 59% oppose;
  • Only 17% agree with the Senate bill advocates that the U.S. faces labor shortages that require an increase in less-skilled immigration; 75% say we have plenty of unemployed Americans to fill those jobs; and

  • Only 19% agree with Senate bill advocates that doubling immigration will improve job prospects for the unemployed; 68% say that would make it harder for unemployed Americans to find jobs.

In "Poll: Majority oppose more foreign workers under immigration reform," The Hill reported that "a solid majority of voters are worried about the impact immigration reform, which could put millions of illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship and create large guest-workers programs, will have on the labor market." Yet concerns raised during the Senate debate "were ignored by Republicans and Democrats alike." 

Backers of the Senate bill have long excluded language that would indicate their legislation would spur the largest immigration increase in U.S. history (during a jobless recovery, no less) from their talking points and polling.  

In "Group pushes poll showing 2 percent support for immigration bill," the Daily Caller gives an example of polling language designed to find support for the Senate bill by not mentioning jobs, unemployment, or the numerical increases:

"A bipartisan group of senators recently introduced legislation to reform the immigration system. The plan establishes border security measures focused on high-risk areas of the Southern border, requires illegal immigrants to pass multiple criminal background checks, pay fines, learn English and pay taxes before getting in line for citizenship, makes E-Verify mandatory for all employers, and creates a new work visa program that regulates immigration according to unemployment. Would you support or oppose this plan to reform the immigration system?"

According to the Daily Caller, that language was "crafted to test messages that legislators could use to offset home-state opposition to the bill, said Kristen Soltis Anderson, a pollster at the Winston Group, which conducted the poll....'That's why polls like this are being released,' she said, because it helps politicians sell the message to voters."  

NumbersUSA's survey puts the immigration bill in a jobs context and "includes data that's often missing from other polls, and from nearly all reports on immigration produced by establishment media outlets," according to the Daily Caller. They are a "mirror image of the questions offered by business-backed pollsters."  

The result is a more nuanced understanding of where the electorate stands on immigration reform. 

Most pro-bill polls are phrased in a way to make opponents appear hard-hearted. But the Pulse Opinion poll shows an opposition driven by compassion and loyalty to the vulnerable members of the national community. As NewsMax reported, "Sixty percent of those polled on Aug. 8 said they would rather business work to train and recruit Americans who are unemployed before recruiting foreign workers, and 71 percent said they would like to see businesses 'raise the pay to attract an unemployed American worker' if they can't find an American to do the job at the rate originally offered."

Pro-bill advocates prefer to frame immigration as a "pro" vs. "no" debate. The Pulse poll belies that theory by finding support for granting work permits to some illegal aliens (after full enforcement is in place) but also strong support for businesses to reach out to groups facing the worst poverty and unemployment rates before seeking new foreign workers.  

As NumbersUSA's Roy Beck told Breitbart, "Once you frame the issue as the American worker versus bringing in foreign workers there seems to be no question where the Americans are."


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