A new national poll of 1,000 likely voters provides insight into why a massive and expensive mobilization effort by business and immigrant groups this month has failed to generate much grassroots passion to persuade Members of the House of Representatives to pass the immigration bill that the Senate approved in June.
The Aug. 8 survey found that most voters simply aren't convinced by the arguments of the business lobbies and by Pres. Obama that increasing the number of immigrant workers allowed to hold jobs in the United States will be good for American workers, especially for those who cannot currently find a job.
- Only one out of five voters (19%) agrees with Pres. Obama's and the business lobbies' central claim that passing the Senate bill to add millions more foreign workers to the labor market would "create economic growth which would provide more jobs for unemployed Americans."
- Instead, nearly 70% of voters chose the answer that "adding more immigrant workers would increase job competition for unemployed Americans, making it harder for them to find jobs."
Leaders of the U.S. House are reflecting the clear will of most voters when they say they would not bring the Senate bill with its massive immigration increases to the floor for a vote.
But House leaders need to be forewarned by this survey which indicates that voters are likely to take a dim view of the House leaders' own immigration bills. Some of the legislation being contemplated by House leaders would also increase the flow of foreign workers and may offer work permits to illegal aliens with compelling stories before fully implementing workplace and border enforcement. None of that is supported by the majority of voters.
The Senate bill would give lifetime work permits to approximately 11 million illegal aliens over the next decade. It would also increase lifetime work permits for new legal immigrants from around 10 million in the previous decade to more than 20 million in the next decade. All those increases in work permits have been a top priority of a vast array of business groups and Pres. Obama throughout this year. But the poll found little support:
- Surveyed voters firmly rejected claims by many business spokesmen and their political allies that America is facing labor shortages among less-educated workers. Only 17% agreed that "the Senate bill's increase in less-educated foreign workers is needed because the country faces labor shortages in construction, hospitality and other service occupations."
- 75% said "the jobs should be filled from the 10 million less-educated Americans that the government says currently want a full-time job but cannot find one."
- Asked to choose an option for what to do when "employers say they have trouble finding an American to take a job," 71% of voters said "raise the pay to attract an unemployed American worker."
- Only 10% said an employer should be able to "bring in a new immigrant worker to keep the labor costs down."
Voters not only worry about how business efforts for higher immigration would affect workers but also how it would drive higher population growth and affect their own quality of life:
- Two-thirds of voters disagreed with business advocates who argue that the government should use immigration to force U.S. population growth; 64% said they prefer that the government "reduce immigration to slow down population growth."
- Just 22% of voters approved of the current level of 10 million immigrants a decade that the Census Bureau projects would be the chief driver of the U.S. population nearly doubling this century. And only 6% approve of increasing immigration levels so that the population can more than double this century, something the Senate bill would do.
- 70% of voters said that if the current level is allowed to nearly double U.S. population that would make the quality of life in their state worse. Only 17% of voters said their quality of life would be better under that kind of immigration-driven population growth, and 9% said it would make no difference.
On the matter of illegal immigration, the survey found:
- Only 16% of likely voters favored giving work permits to "nearly all" illegal immigrants, which is what the Senate bill would do.
- 53% of voters said they approved of work permits for "only some" of the illegal immigrants "who have compelling cases after living here a long time."
- 22% said no illegal immigrant should get a work permit.
While the poll showed widespread willingness among voters for legalizing some sub-section of the nation's 11-18 million illegal aliens, it didn't find support for the business lobbies' and Pres. Obama's insistence that the legalization and work permits occur first. Only 24% of voters said they favor giving work permits to any illegal immigrants before "full implementation of border and workplace enforcement to stop future flows of illegal workers."
ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA