A new poll released Wednesday, shows an increase in support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants which, interestingly, has been fueled by Republicans.
The Associated Press-GfK poll released on Wednesday shows 62 percent Americans favor allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually gain citizenship, up from 50 percent in 2010. More than half of Republicans – 53 percent - now favor a path to citizenship, up 22 percentage points from 2010.
Congress is expected to take up an immigration reform package this year. A path to citizenship remains one of the most contentious issues of reform. Democrats support it and Republicans do not, although, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) proposal allows undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status but provides no special pathway to citizenship.
President Barack Obama made immigration reform a centerpiece of his re-election campaign, garnishing a plurality of votes in the November election from Latino voters.
Democrats have opened up a 41 percent to 34 percent lead over Republicans as the party most trusted to deal with immigration. That's a significant shift from October 2010, when Republicans led Democrats on that question by a margin of 46 percent to 41 percent.
Republican leaders have increasingly recognized the need for a shift in party stance on the issue, as Latino power grows in the United States. Whether Latino voters will convert electoral clout into meaningful, comprehensive immigration legislation has yet to be seen.
“I think the republicans are ready to do something on immigration,” former Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santurum said on ABC’s This Week. “You saw Marco Rubio’s plan which is pretty far down the road. It looks a lot like what President Bush put forward four years ago.”
But just because Republicans were prepared to talk about immigration policies doesn’t mean they are in complete agreement with Democrats on what policies to enact, Santorum cautioned. “They’re willing to do it but they’re not willing to give the President everything he wants.” Santorum said, “because I think they believe the rule of law still matters in this country and that we have to respect those who did it the right way who waited in line and did — and made sacrifices and that they shouldn’t be treated the same as people who broke the law and came here.”