The reelection of recently inaugurated President Obama is a telltale sign of a greater shift in perspective among Americans on many issues including immigration policy. A newly released poll conducted by Associated Press-GfK indicates that 6 in 10 Americans now support allowing illegal immigrants to eventually become United States citizens, a significant increase driven by a turn in many Republicans’ positions since the 2012 elections. A majority in the GOP - 53 percent - now favor blazing a more inclusive trail toward citizenship. That’s a 22 percent increase from 2010.
The Republicans’ shift in their approach to immigration policy comes as the GOP seeks to increase its lackluster support among Latino voters, who rallied behind President Obama in November. In his inaugural speech on Monday, Obama declared, “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country." Moreover, David Axelrod, one of Obama’s top advisors, stated on Monday that immigration reform will be a high priority for the Obama administration that will be prompted early on during the president’s second term.
Why has such a significant shift in immigration ideology among Republicans happened so fast? Is the GOP simply pandering to Latino voters for their support or has a more comprehensive understanding of immigration needs been adopted? What kinds of real and enduring changes in immigration policy might we see over the next four years?
Mark Lopez, Associate Director of the Pew Hispanic Center, Washington D.C.
Dan Judy, Vice President of North Star Opinion Research, a Republican pollster