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New poll finds broad support, even among Trump voters, for a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants

By: - September 23, 2021 8:48 am

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Arizona voters overwhelmingly support a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants who meet some conditions for eligibility, according to a poll released Wednesday. 

The survey of 323 Arizona voters between Sept. 10 and 18 found broad support, even among Trump voters, for “earned citizenship” for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children (often called dreamers), farmworkers, essential workers and those with Temporary Protected Status. Earned citizenship is a term that broadly means naturalization that is granted after immigrants pay a fine, pass language tests or other meet requirements to comply with eligibility. 

It comes as Democrats in Congress struggle to pass a pathway for citizenship for millions, but not all, undocumented immigrants through the budget reconciliation process. 

The poll was commissioned by the American Business Immigration Coalition and FWD.us, an immigration and criminal justice reform advocacy group, and released during a press call. The survey was conducted by Democratic polling firm BSP Research and Republican firm Shaw & Company Research. Arizona was one of 11 battleground states polled.

Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., spoke at the press event. He said Arizona is home to an estimated 170,000 undocumented residents who are dreamers, farmworkers and TPS holders. 

“No state stands to benefit more from immigration modernization than my home state of Arizona,” Stanton said. “It’s clear to me that Americans, regardless of political affiliation, are demanding immigration reform. It’s up to us to deliver.”

Stanton, who supported the House version of the reconciliation package that includes a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants, called on other Democrats in Congress and the White House to end the paralysis in the Senate. 

GOP pollster Daron Shaw, of Shaw & Company Research, said conservatives have supported a pathway to citizenship for certain kinds of undocumented immigrants for a long time.

The poll also showed that, when considering the economic contributions of some immigrants with no permanent status in Arizona, the majority of voters support a path to citizenship for dreamers, farmworkers, and essential workers. 

Majorities of Trump supporters and self-described conservatives backed a pathway to citizenship. Among Trump voters, 61% support a pathway to citizenship for dreamers, 58% for farmworkers and 50% for essential workers who are undocumented. Those polled who identified as conservatives support citizenship by 66% for dreamers, 59% for farmworkers and 56% for essential workers. Overall, nearly 4 out of 5 Arizona voters supported this pathway.

Democratic pollster Matt Barreto, a principal at BSP Research, said Arizona voters have changed significantly from the late 2000s, when anti-immigrant sentiment was at its height in the state. Barreto said the poll showed a majority of Arizona voters don’t want to see the removal of undocumented immigrants and they understand that undocumented immigrants contribute to the economy. 

“They can relate to the immigrants they work with in their communities,” he said.

The poll also showed most Arizona voters polled support Democrats taking action now even without Republican votes of support, Barreto said. 

“Simply put, Arizona voters are tired of inaction and are ready for reforms they believe will benefit small businesses and the economy as a whole,” the pollsters concluded in their analysis of the results. 

The poll found over 60% of Arizona voters say immigrant laws and regulations are not working. 

“Voters don’t believe the system is working well, (and) it’s been a 20-30 year issue,” Barreto said. “Now we have an opportunity here.”

Alejandra Gomez, co-executive director of Living United for Change Arizona, said the poll also signals what community members who talk with voters have known for years: that “being anti-immigrant no longer provides a viable path to victory.” 

“(The poll) further validates the fact that immigration is no longer an issue among conservatives because most are in support of a pathway to citizenship,” she said. 

Gomez said the poll should send a message to U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly that their constituents want them to pass a pathway to citizenship.  

“This poll perfectly illustrates that, at the end of the day, Arizonans are not worried about Senate rules and procedures, they grow weary of the centrists in Congress conducting performative and self-defeating theatre,” she said. “Positioning yourselves a few steps closer to the center no matter the cost despite the reality of public opinion to prove a point is not a winning strategy.”

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Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for education, immigration, political, and public safety reporting and Spanish-language news and feature reporting. Laura worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.

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