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TO: Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum

FROM: Jon McHenry, Whit Ayres, and Dan Judy



DATE: June 12, 2014

RE: National Survey of Republican Primary Voters Regarding Immigration Reform


Overview
This survey of Republican primary voters, conducted June 2-5, 2014 for the think tank the
American Action Forum, shows strong support for a potential step-by-step approach to
immigration reform that includes several key elements: border enforcement; E-verify; and earned
legal status that emphasizes paying a fine and back taxes, learning English, proof of
employment, and waiting at the back of the line to apply for citizenship until after everyone who
is currently in line to legally enter gets in. That includes support among frequent talk radio
listeners (17 percent of the sample who listen to conservative talk radio daily or almost daily)
and strong Tea Party supporters (26 percent of the sample).

With those elements included, primary voters will support legal status for undocumented
immigrants, including provisions for young undocumented people to gain permanent legal status
after meeting specified criteria such as serving in the military, high-skill visas for immigrants
with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, and a temporary worker
program with a required return home.

Views of Changing the Immigration System
1. Republican primary voters support earned legal status These voters support earned
legal status like a worker permit, but does not provide full citizenship by a 56 to 36 percent
margin overall.

2. but narrowly oppose earned citizenship. By a 48 to 44 percent margin, primary
voters oppose earned citizenship.

3. Despite initial hesitation, Republican primary voters support the Senate bill by an
overwhelming margin when it is described to them. When asked, Based on what you
remember about it, would you say you generally support or oppose the immigration reform bill
that was passed by the United States Senate last summer? 41 percent say they dont know or
cant remember, 44 percent oppose it, and 15 percent support it.

National Survey of Republican Primary Voters Regarding Immigration Page 2
When the bill is described, including four key components strengthening border security,
employer verification, an earned approach to legal status including paying fines and taxes,
learning English, and waiting at the back of the line, and tying legal immigration to the economy
primary voters support the bill by a 75 to 21 percent margin. Included in that level of support
is a 72 to 25 percent margin among frequent talk-radio listeners and a 70 to 25 percent margin
among those who strongly support the Tea Party.

Potential Plan Elements
1. Not surprisingly, the restrictive elements tested draw high levels of support from
Republican primary voters. The restrictive elements those that focus on requirements before
allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status and the conditions that these
immigrants must meet in order to remain in the United States draw overwhelming support.
Based on these results and previous research, the key elements are:

Securing the border. These voters support a potential element that prevent[s] any
changes to legal status for undocumented immigrants until the U.S. Border Patrol
certifies that at least 90 percent of illegal border crossers are apprehended, and 100
percent of the border is under surveillance, with a system in place to track immigrants
who enter and exit the country by a 78 to 18 percent margin.

Requiring employers to use E-Verify. Primary voters support requir[ing] employers
to use E-Verify to make sure all employees are legal, and require any company that
employs illegal immigrants to pay a large fine by an 87 to 10 percent margin.

Significant conditions for legal status. By an 87 to 10 percent margin, these voters
support requir[ing] undocumented immigrants to submit to and pass a background
check, be fingerprinted, pay taxes, pay a fine, and prove gainful employment in order to
stay in the United States.

2. All of the tested elements regarding legal status draw majority support. The elements
allowing undocumented immigrants to stay legally in the United States all receive majority
support. The key elements in this section are:

Creating a temporary worker plan with a return home. By a 78 to 20 percent margin,
primary voters support set[ting] up a temporary worker program where people would
come to America legally for a limited time to work in areas like agriculture, after which
they would be required to return to their home countries. These workers would be
allowed to return for the work season each year.

Allow young undocumented immigrants to have permanent legal status after
meeting conditions. These voters support allow[ing] young undocumented people who
have no criminal record to be eligible for permanent resident status immediately after
their honorable discharge from service in the U.S. military by a 77 to 19 percent margin
and support allow[ing] young undocumented people who have no criminal record to be
eligible for permanent resident status immediately after graduating from college by a 60
to 36 percent margin.

National Survey of Republican Primary Voters Regarding Immigration Page 3
Allocate more high-skill visas. Primary voters support allocat[ing] more high-skill
visas to foreigners who have earned a Masters degree or higher in the fields of science,
technology, engineering, or math by a 74 to 23 percent margin.

Support for a Step-by-Step Plan
1. Nearly four in five Republican primary voters support a potential step-by-step
immigration plan. After hearing the potential elements, respondents were asked:

The House of Representatives could vote this summer on step-by-step immigration
reform bills that increased border security, strengthened the E-Verify program so
employers can quickly identify illegal job applicants, implemented a visa tracking
system to know who is in the country, and allowed illegal immigrants to earn
temporary legal status if they passed a criminal background check, learned
English, paid a fine, and paid back taxes. In general, would you support or
oppose that immigration reform plan?

Voters overall support that plan by a 78 to 19 percent margin, including 72 to 23 percent among
the frequent talk-radio listeners and 70 to 28 percent among strong Tea Party supporters.

2. A majority of primary voters says they would still vote for a candidate with whom
they disagree on immigration. These voters say they would still vote for a candidate with
whom they disagree on immigration if they agree on most other issues by a 55 to 29 percent
margin, including a 60 to 25 percent margin among supporters of a potential House plan and a 41
to 44 percent margin among opponents of a potential House plan. Interestingly, 20 percent of the
electorate is House plan supporters who would not support someone with whom they disagree on
immigration (25 percent of 78 percent who support the plan) while just 8 percent are opponents
who would not support someone with whom they disagree on immigration (44 percent of 19
percent who oppose the plan).

Methodology
This analysis represents the findings of a national survey of 1000 past Republican primary
voters. Interviews were conducted by telephone June 2-5, 2014, using live interviewers and a
listed sample including both cellular and landline telephones. The margin of error is 3.10% at a
95% level of confidence, with a higher margin of error for subgroups.

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