Poll: Majority of Americans say border control is more important to immigration reform

While President Barack Obama attempts to convince Latino voters that he’d make good on his promise of immigration reform in his second term and while Congress prepares to investigate the constitutionality of state-level anti-illegal-immigration laws, the American people proclaim that their top immigration-related priority is still to secure the border:

Voters continue to name border control as the more important issue in immigration reform, but they also still support a welcoming immigration policy.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59 percent of likely U.S. voters think when it comes to immigration reform, gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of illegal immigrants who are already in this country. That’s down two points from last month but in line with findings on the question since February 2007.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of voters think it is more important to legalize the status of undocumented workers already living here, unchanged from last month.

Michael Scherer argues in this month’s Time cover story that Latinos will pick the next president. That doesn’t seem like such a stretch. Given that, it’s hard not to think that immigration might be the single issue Republicans are least prepared to address in the general election — not because Obama has a better message on it, but because nobody has an adequate response to the issue. Now’s the time for all the GOP candidates to refocus their immigration message on border control. If they want to broaden the discussion from border control to immigration reform, then they need to brush up on a few facts. Illegal immigration isn’t the only problem with our immigration system; we’re also plagued with an outdated quota system and a lack of a national consensus about what kind of immigrants we want to attract to this country. Many of our hard-working, family-oriented southern neighbors who still believe in the American Dream and want to create a better future for their children are precisely the sort of immigrants for whom we should want to ease the process to come here legally in the first place.

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