Analysis: Republicans who support immigration reform are on safe political ground

Republicans may not be of one mind when it comes to immigration reform, but support for reform has become the mainstream position among New Hampshire Republicans. That’s one of the takeaways from the New England College survey of New Hampshire voters released today.

The survey asked voters, “Do you support or oppose the current immigration reform bill in Congress that awards undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship before a confirmed improvement in border security?”

That’s not exactly language designed to get a favorable response, yet 68 percent of all voters strongly or somewhat support the bill, with just 20 percent strongly or somewhat opposed. Republicans support the bill, 57-34; unaffiliated voters back it, 64-21; and Democrats said they agreed by an 81-7 margin.

Support for immigration reform has increased among Republicans in recent years. A June, 2011 UNH / Boston Globe survey that asked New Hampshire primary voters, “Would you support or oppose a program giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements?” 42% of likely Republican primary voters supported a path to legal status, as did 54% of undeclared voters and 72% of likely Democratic primary voters. See page 58:

Republicans who support immigration reform are thus on safe political ground.

This is good news for U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, who last month became the first Republican who was not a member of the Gang of Eight to support the bill. Ayotte ultimately was one of 14 Republicans senators who voted for it. Not only do independent and Democratic voters overwhelming agree with her vote, so does a strong majority of Republicans.

It’s also good news for Senator Marco Rubio, the most visible Republican member of the Gang of Eight. Rubio’s decision to get out front on this issue appears not to have been a politically calculated one. He could have easily taken a safe path by sidestepping immigration or leaving the heavy lifting to someone else. Instead, he rolled up his sleeves and worked hard to forge the compromises necessary to get a bill passed. The New England College poll suggests that Rubio’s leadership on this issue will be viewed as a net plus by New Hampshire Republicans.

Furthermore, opposing reform or defending the existing broken system is a losing political position. 2014 congressional candidates, take note.

Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, is a co-founder of, a group that supports immigration reform that makes it easier for the world’s most talented and motivated people to live and work in America legally.

Author: Fergus Cullen

Fergus Cullen is a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party (2007-2008) and an editorial page columnist for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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  • Forums4Justice

    The CBO analysis shows that:

    average wages of American workers would be lower,
    than they otherwise would be
    through at least the first 10 years of the law’s enactment.

    The unemployment rate would also rise for the first 10 years,
    due to a large increase in the labor force.

    GDP would increase, but:
    the much more important, GDP per capita,
    would decrease for a prolonged period of time.

    June jobless rates rise in 28 states

    360,000 part-time jobs created last month ……….

    240,000 full-time jobs lost

    Year-to-date: 557,000 part-time jobs have been added,
    but only 130,000 full-time jobs…

    Employment still hasn’t regained the number reached in
    January, 2008 .. 138.056 million employed;
    this despite a population increase of 12.5 million.

    ..Total NonFarm
    ……Employment .. Pop ……..(in millions)
    2008 Jan. 138.056 303.8 HIGH
    2010 Feb. 129.320 308.8 LOW
    2013 Jun. 135.902 316.2 NOW

    Black Unemployment 13.7%; Hispanic Unemployment 9.1%

    Illegal Immigrant Employment, as it now exists, within our United States

    OFF-THE-BOOKS, there’s a rapidly growing $2+ Trillion Underground Economy in the U.S,, which has doubled in the last four years, heavily populated by illegal immigrants. . S.744 does absolutely nothing to address the Underground Economy. It’s highly doubtful that many would opt for citizenship. They will still be here working off-the-books, and more will come .. More than 12% of our economy is OFF-THE-BOOKs, under the table.

    ON-THE-BOOKS, Eight million illegal immigrants are working in, non-agriculture, American jobs, by using false, or stolen SS numbers. Using SS mismatches, DHS knows where these illegal immigrants are working.

    Less than 4% of all illegal immigrants, in our United States, are working in agriculture.