Ronald Brownstein reported recently on encouraging polling results about what steps our nation should take with the 11 million undocumented peoples living in our midst:
"As the debate over immigration continues to roil the Republican presidential field, a substantial majority of Americans say they would prefer to allow some or all illegal immigrants to remain in the United States, the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll has found."
"When asked what should be done with the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, just 25 percent of those polled said that they should all be deported “no matter how long they have been in the U.S.”
"Another 28 percent of those surveyed said that all illegal immigrants should be allowed “to stay, provided they have broken no other laws and commit to learning English and U.S. history.”
"The largest group, at 39 percent, said that the United States should “deport some, but allow those who have been here for many years and have broken no other laws to stay here legally.”
I am greatly encouraged by these results since some 67% of Americans polled favor some form of path to legal residency for the 11 million. Only 25% believe that all should be found and deported--an impossible task, of course.
These poll numbers reflect the great American spirit, an appreciation of the contributions of all immigrants down through the centuries here, and a realization that so many of our recent immigrants share our values and want to work hard for their families and for the country.
Immigration reform has now surfaced far more visibly in the past two months with the Presidential election campaigns underway. The presence of 11 million people living in the shadows of our society and contributing to our society cannot be ignored--not morally, ethically, or politically.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from the draconian Arizona immigration law, and hopefully, its decision will help bring more clarity to the discussion in the coming months.
All of us need to press our members of the U.S. Congress to discuss this issue, and to challenge them to respect and work for the position of the 67% majority who favor an earned path towards legal residency.
Let's keep our discussion focused upon the human dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, their hard work for their families and all of us, and for our need for workers in so many employment opportunities as the economy improves and as Baby Boomers retire.
Our position as Catholics is based on God's mandates to Moses, as well as the urging by Jesus Christ to see him in all peoples, especially in the strangers in our midst.
Let's keep up our prayers and broad efforts to help influence the current public discussion around this issue, and let's thank the 67% for their enlightened reasoning.
[The United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from Dec. 1 to 4; it interviewed 1,008 adults by landline and cell phone. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.]