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Texans Support Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants

But the Texas Lyceum survey found Republicans back deportation.

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John Moore/Getty

On Tuesday morning, as I listened to Joshua Blank lay out the results of the new Texas Lyceum survey of state adult attitudes on illegal immigration, I couldn’t help but think how different the Lone Star State might be if everyone voted. Certainly, the Texas Lyceum survey showed gentler approach to immigration than what we see in our politics.

Before I lay out those Lyceum statistics, consider this: In last year’s presidential election, Texas had a voting age population of 19.3 million people, of whom 78 percent were registered to vote. But only 46 percent of the state’s adults bothered to cast a ballot. Only Hawaii had lower percentage of its voting age adults show up at the ballot box. For Texas, that means a mere 24 percent of the state’s adult population voted to give 36 Electoral College votes to Republican Donald J. Trump and his promises to build a border wall with Mexico and deport 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Don’t gloat, Democrats, the percentage of the adult Texas population who voted for Hillary Clinton was even less.

Let’s step back one election cycle, Republican Governor Greg Abbott pretty easily won the 2014 election, when less than a quarter of the voting age adults bothered to cast a ballot. Abbott won with the votes of just about 15 percent of the total adult population in Texas. That means five out of six adults in the state either voted for someone else, or didn’t vote at all. Now, Abbott is pushing for a crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities that do not fully cooperate with Trump’s deportation plans.

So why all this buildup before getting to the Lyceum survey? Because it focuses on the attitudes of all Texans, not just those who embrace party affiliations.

One area where this showed up is in a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. A whopping 90 percent of the adult Texans surveyed supported citizenship after long waiting periods, criminal background checks, and a demonstrated proficiency in English. “This result may be surprising to anyone familiar with other public opinion polls in Texas, most of which show that the notion of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. is quite unpopular,” read the survey’s executive summary.

The numbers are different, though, when respondents were asked whether they want President Trump to follow up on his promise to deport undocumented immigrants. Only 31 percent said they did, while 62 percent said they did not; however, 59 percent of the self-identified Republicans said they favored deportation.

Overall, 72 percent of Texans expressed concern about illegal immigration, but just 37 percent said they were “extremely concerned.” Republicans were more concerned about illegal immigration than Democrats by 90 percent to 57 percent. While not terribly surprising that 78 percent of Anglos said they are concerned about illegal immigration, so too were 69 percent of the Hispanics surveyed. Overall, 61 percent of the adults surveyed opposed the construction of the border wall proposed by Trump.

On the issue of sanctuary cities, 49 percent of the adults surveyed opposed the concept, while 45 percent approved. Among Republicans, 86 percent were opposed. So it is easy to see why Republican politicians like Abbott would take that policy position. Among Democrats, support for sanctuary cities was 69 percent, and Hispanics supported the concept by 56 percent.

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  • Toddster

    So, the idea being that if too many people break a law, we should pass a new law in order to accommodate them? Pretty sure that is not a good precedent to set.

    • Gunslinger

      That’s not exactly a new concept. Prohibition passed. People still drank. Prohibition repealed.
      Homosexual activity was illegal. People still had gay sex. Those laws were repealed…mostly.
      Some things can’t or shouldn’t be dealt with on the level of criminal law.

      • WUSRPH

        And, as you know, being in the US without legal authorization IS NOT a criminal act. It is a civil violation. You cannot be jailed for just being here…..It is a criminal act (a misdemeanor) to enter the US without authorization, but an estimated 40% of the undocumented came in with visas or other legal permits and over stayed their authorized period. Overstaying is also a civil violation, not a criminal act.

        • roadgeek

          So other sovereign nation-states get to pick and choose who comes in, but not the United States? Please clarify. And let’s also discuss the concept of moral hazard inherent in passing an “amnesty” every twenty years or so.

          • WUSRPH

            There is no legal barrier to our “pick(ing) and choos(ing)” as you put it….There may be a moral one, however, and it is definitely counter to our history….We didn’t pick and choose when your ancestors probably came to America…It was open doors for most of our history (except for free blacks and, later, Chinese)….and that didn’t seem to destroy us.. In fact, the mixture of the various nationalities, religions and cultures is what has made America what it is today—-the greatest nation on earth. The US didn’t get down to picking and choosing (by nationality and race) until 1924, after the greatest period of immigration (late 19th century up to WW I). The problem is what standards are we to use to “pick” the deserving……From your past record, I suspect yours might have a lot more to do with the color/religion/culture of the potential immigrant than mine would…There is also the fact that just because a proposed immigrant is highly educated/trained or from a particularly culture does not mean that he or she will contribute the most to America. If we had used that standard in the past few Irish, Poles, East Europeans, Italians, Jews or virtually any other group except the post-1848 Germans would have been allowed to cross our borders….The fact is that most people with the qualifications you would probably insist on are the most unlikely to be immigrants. There education/status normally gives them privileged position in their home society so there is often no reason for them to leave. (As with all general rules…there are exceptions, such as the case with Indians where the educational system produces more than the economy can use…but even that is changing). What history shows us that it is the people with a reason to leave–economic, religious, political–who are most likely to immigrant….It also shows us that most of them are the most industrious and ambitious since making the decision to live all behind is not something a lazy person is likely to make. In addition, there is the fact that our economy needs the kind of people without real skills to fill what I term the “First Generation Jobs”….

          • SpiritofPearl

            Did you watch “The Great War,” a three-part series on American Experience? It was pointed out that one-third of all Americans were foreign-born by the start of WWI. We’ve become exceedingly nationalistic since then.

          • WUSRPH

            The percentage declined thereafter as we tightened up on immigration and with the depression, etc. but it is now rising again. The last figure I saw was that 13% of the total population is foreign born. That increase, particularly the growth in non-“like us” folks with different skin colors, religions and cultural backgrounds is one of the things that gave rise to Trumptarianism.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Did you war h the series?

          • WUSRPH

            Missed it….but I know a fair amount about WWI and the period.

          • HandleB

            If you are going to legalize anyone, why would it be the people who broke the law and not the millions of who have been waiting patiently in poverty who have applied to immigrate legally?

          • WUSRPH

            Because they are here and are now a part of our economy and society and fulfill a useful role. And because we would have to become a police state to remove them. As such, making their citizens with all the rights AND responsibilities that involves is the practical, rational and moral response.

          • HandleB

            Why do you think that honest, law-abiding people are not useful? Why do you think that it’s moral to punish people who are willing to suffer for years in order to obey the law?

          • BCinBCS

            You want to be moral the easy way, not expending any time, treasure, energy or anguish to demonstrate your morality.

          • HandleB

            No idea what you’re talking about here. I encourage people who wish to immigrate to do it legally as my family and friends have one, coming from very dire circumstances. And, when you arrive, continue to obey all laws. If you do that, you will have no reason to be fearful of ICE knocking on your door.

        • John Bernard Books

          “For the first improper entry offense, the person can be fined (as a criminal penalty), or imprisoned for up to six months, or both. For a subsequent offense, the person can be fined or imprisoned for up to two years, or both. (See 8 U.S.C. Section 1325, I.N.A. Section 275.)”

      • ronk1957

        Not a good comparison. Immigration was never outlawed there are just conditions on it . Alcohol still has conditions on it. You can’t make it in the woods and legally sell it. You can’t sell it to minors. Immigration like alcohol has conditions also . It must be controlled. What if one billion people from China “wanted a better life” ? How about another Billion from India ? while you are at it how about another billion from the African continent ? Everybody wants a better life.

        • WUSRPH

          Noone I know disputes that immigration should be controlled…Its how that we should do it that we debate. But this poll does not deal with that issue. It is concerned with what to do with the 10 million or more undocumented aliens and their more than 3 million US citizen children.The point this poll is making is that a majority of the people of Texas are logical enough to realize that you cannot round up and deport millions of people who are part of the fabric of your society and your economy and who play a vital role in the economy. These people do not just stand around the street corners….They work hard often at jobs you would not accept…Many have families and pay rent and taxes just like everyone else. Any plan to tear them out of the fabric of our society is at a minimum illogical, impractical and unaffordable. The question is do we bring them fully into our society—with all its rights AND responsibilities—or do we build a two-tier society, as Roadgeek suggests.

          • HandleB

            Why penalize the people who are obeying the law while rewarding the ones that are breaking it? If you are going to legalize anyone, why would it be the people who broke the law and not the millions of who have been waiting patiently in poverty who have applied to immigrate legally?

            What do you do about the people who will subsequently cross the border illegally and/or overstay their visas, and then immediately start having kids? Legalize them? If so, that becomes your immigration policy.

          • WUSRPH

            We recognize that, unless we turn this country into a police state, those that are here are going to stay. As such, it is better to bring them out of the shadows so that they can take enjoy our rights AND fulfill their responsibilities as citizens than to continue the current policy or to set up a two-tier society. That would only breed discontent. This is a practical response to an ongoing problem. That does not mean that those who try to come in the future should get the same chance. Hopefully, changes in our system will make it harder for them to come and stay.

          • HandleB

            Are you going to separate families in 3 years by deporting mothers and fathers? On what basis? They are relatives of what would then be US citizens who will call you a xenophobic bigot for separating families. Why shouldn’t these people be given the same consideration?

            Hundreds of thousands will protest your xenophobic hatred and bigotry. There is nothing you’re going to be able to do to stop a flood of people coming in and demanding citizenship like the others.

          • WUSRPH

            Your obviously have not been following the continuing discussion of how to handle undocumented aliens either on this particular thread or the many times it has come up in the past. If you had, you would know that your intemperate attack on me for “xenophobic hatred and bigotry” is totally absurd. I have, in fact, consistently opposed those who express such views.

            I have made it clear on numerous occasions, including on this thread, that I favor legalization of those here now as a practical, rational and moral solution to the current situation. They are here. They are part of our society and our economy. We cannot, as I said earlier, remove them by other than police state means…….As citizens they would have, as all citizens, the right to sponsor relatives. I would not change this right.
            I have repeatedly pointed out the positive role that immigrants have played in our country’s history and how their presence is one of the factors that has made this country great. (See below for example)

            I also have repeatedly said, including in the posts you will find below, continued immigration to the US eve if it were only because we need their labor.

            As such, I suggest in the future you read what has been written before attacking people.

          • HandleB

            ” If you had, you would know that your intemperate attack on me for “xenophobic hatred and bigotry” is totally absurd.”

            *I* did not attack you personally. I was merely reminding you that you will be attacked for your position. You made this statement: “That does not mean that those who try to come in the future should get the same chance. Hopefully, changes in our system will make it harder for them to come and stay.”

            People who say, as you did above, that illegal immigrants should not be allowed to stay and become citizens are considered by xenophobic bigots by people who advocate amnesty, whether those here now or those who will come in the future.

          • HandleB

            That would completely remove any and all reason to go through a legal process. If there is any waiting time or cost, people, especially people who are related to those given amnesty. Tens of millions more will follow immediately, financed and protected by their now US citizen relatives.

          • HandleB

            11+ million will not be quickly deported. It will likely be just 4-500,000 a year, as it has been in times past. Maybe a few more That rate didn’t have a significant impact on the economy.

          • WUSRPH

            400 to 500,000 per year is viritually doubling the current rate. It would only be possible with a dramatic increase in spending and police state (stop and question) tactics.

          • HandleB

            4-500,000 is not a huge number. They could make that number by just repatriating people with existing orders of removal, which is 950,000/

            According to ICE data, DHS deported 438,421 people in fiscal 2013 and 414,481 people in fiscal year 2014. Perhaps that includes the border. However, if the number attempting to cross drops dramatically, the frees up resources for interior removals.

            Adding 5,000 ICE agents, expanding expedited removal to 2 years and nationwide, and deporting people that have an order of removal from a federal judge would make it possible to deport people with less labor and more efficiently, making 4-500,000 easily attainable.

          • HandleB

            To be clear, I never said that I “wanted” anyone removed. You said that, not me.

            Second, ICE has been deporting people since 1893. You seem to be under the impression that it was invented in January.

            Third, given that we all waited many years to immigrate legally in far worse conditions than the vast majority of illegal aliens experienced at home, I happen to know that they voluntarily chose to enter illegally or overstay to have a better life vs. were forced into it based on circumstances.

            So, the risk of deportation wasn’t sprung on them unfairly. They voluntarily chose to place themselves at risk of deportation, and hoped it wouldn’t catch up to them. It’s no different than breaking many other laws in that sense.

    • José

      If too many people break a law it dang well means that you ought to think about whether something’s wrong with the law. Bloggers can afford to be idealists. Good government requires being practical. Talk to any experienced law enforcement officer and ask them if they cite every violation that they see.

      • ronk1957

        I agree. Let’s make murder legal in Chicago.

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        • BCinBCS

          Wow ronk, you just won the argument.

      • HandleB

        If anyone is going to be allowed to be fast-tracked ency, why wouldn’t it be the millions of people who have applied to immigrate legally rather than the ones that didn’t bother?

        Those who applied to immigrate legally, in many cases, have been waiting patiently for years in extreme poverty, proving that they are determined to obey whatever laws are in place – even when breaking the law would be easier and serves their personal interests (as millions have done)?

        • WUSRPH

          First of all there having to wait is in now way related to the presence of the undocumented. It is a problem with the law…….
          Second, no one is saying “fast track” legalization of the undocumented. Every serious proposal calls for a work permit and then a period of YEARS before they can qualify for citizenship.

          • HandleB

            “Second, no one is saying “fast track” legalization of the undocumented.”

            Sorry, I thought you were advocating amnesty, which is fast tracking legalization, albeit not citizenship. Which would reward people for breaking the law and penalize those who tried to obey the law, waiting for decades, in some cases, in more extreme poverty than the majority of illegal immigrants.

            “YEARS”, as in longer than anyone could possibly have to wait who applied to enter legally? Which is over 30 years since it can take at least 25 years for some people to just be able to enter the country legally, before a green card and before citizenship.

  • roadgeek

    No. Absolutely not. The Roadgeek plan is a form of “permission to stay and work”, but no citizenship and absolutely no chain migration. No amnesty whatsoever. Libs could have had amnesty/immigration reform during 2007-08, but chose to pass, for some reason. Don’t come wanting a do-over now. And nothing happens till after the Wall is finished.

    • SpiritofPearl

      You’ve got a long wait for The Great Wall.

  • txcharley .

    So who did they ask? Only people living in Austin? Those results certainly do not reflect the opinions of ANYONE I know – and I know a LOT of Texans!!

    • pwt7925

      My friends in New York tell me that the results of the election do not reflect the opinions of ANYONE they know, and they know a LOT of New Yorkers. Clearly there are a lot of people they don’t know.

    • SpiritofPearl

      But you don’t know a statisically significant random sample . . .

  • ronk1957

    Polls say Hillary Clinton wins election in a landslide ! It is in all how you ask the question. Example : Do you want poor little three year old Juan and his little puppy sent back to Mexico ?

  • Madrigalian

    Because Republicans aren’t Texans. At least that’s the way this article tries to couch the horseshite it’s trying to promote. “Texans support but Republicans are against, blah, blah, blah”… More liberal garbage surveys anyone?

  • BCinBCS

    “90 percent of the adult Texans surveyed supported citizenship [for illegal aliens].

    I would never have guessed that so many Texans believe that. (Maybe there is hope for this state after all.)

  • HandleB

    Seems backwards to penalize those who obeyed the law while rewarding those who broke it.

    If anyone is going to be allowed to be fast-tracked ency, why wouldn’t it be the millions of people who have applied to immigrate legally, and have been waiting patiently for years (in many cases in extreme poverty), proving that they are determined to obey whatever laws are in place – even when breaking the law would be easier and serves their personal interests (as millions have done)?


    Boy, I feel left out….Here Gov. Abbott is making so much fuzz about Austin being a “sanctuary city” and when US Attorney General Jeff Sessions starts to crack down by sending threatening letters to such evil places HE LEAVES AUSTIN OFF OF THE LIST.



    A federal court has blocked Trump’s “Sanctuary Cities” policy. It will be interesting to see if this has any effect on the debate on a bill that will penalize those who do not cooperate with the feds that is set for tomorrow (Wednesday).