Immigration Poll

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A new poll commissioned by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce shows that overwhelmingly majorities support the comprehensive immigration reform plan being worked on by the so-called “Gang of 8,” a bi-partisan group of lawmakers that includes Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake. Garrick Taylor of the chamber will discuss the findings of the Public Opinion Strategies poll.

Ted Simons: A new statewide poll commissioned by the Arizona chamber of commerce and industry shows widespread support for the immigration reform plan being worked on by the so-called gang of eight, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators that includes Arizona's John McCain and Jeff flake. Here to tell us more about the poll is Garrick Taylor, he's senior vice-president of government relation and communications for the chamber of commerce and industry. Thanks for joining us.

Garrick Taylor: thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Statewide survey on immigration, what were you looking for, what did you find?

Garrick Taylor: We've got two senators here who as you mentioned are part of the gang of eight. We wanted to see what do Arizona voters think about what they're putting on the table, and the results are pretty positive.

Ted Simons: Let's start with who conducted the public opinion strategy.

Garrick Taylor: It's a brand name firm, national reputation. They are partners in the NBC "Wall Street Journal" poll.

Ted Simons: What question were asked?

Garrick Taylor: We put in front of voters, these are the elements that the gang of eight is pursuing, what do you think? It was straight up or down. Do you support or oppose?

Ted Simons: Not necessarily being -- Not all together, just again, if there are four separate entities, can you like one and disapprove of three?

Garrick Taylor: It was up or down, one question. That included everything from the path to citizenship with the stronger border security down to a stronger worker verification system.

Ted Simons: Let's start with that path to citizenship. Securing the border, stopping -- Talk to us more about that.

Garrick Taylor: Jeff flake was at a chamber luncheon, and he talked about this. The vast majority of the legal immigrants-- The illegal immigrants are not necessarily those who hop the fence and came across the border. But those who legally entered through a port of entry, and merely overstayed their Visa. And we don't have a system, at least robust one in this country, for internal enforcement that sends those people back. In Arizona we've got E-verify that's used in the workplace to determine worker eligibility. And we ask folks if we could strengthen border security, and then move to some sort of system of the path to citizenship for those folks who are here in an undocumented way, would you support it? And it seems, and like we talked about, we can't break it out by point by point, it seems there's support there.

Ted Simons: And again, as I continually ask, securing the border. Does that mean not a single individual, not a fly can get across, or what does it mean?

Garrick Taylor: As senator Flake has said, we don't need a sealed border. We need a secure border. He's pointed to the Yuma border patrol sector as one that fits that definition for him. So we probably have a ways to go in the Tucson sector, but right here in the Yuma sector we've got some positive things to show.

Ted Simons: Another aspect of the questionnaire was, improving the legal immigration system. How was that worded, what did you find?

Garrick Taylor: That's a big issue in Arizona. Especially within the high-tech community. We've got a system here where we're training the best and brightest in our Universities. And then we wish them bon voyage as they go back to their home country. We've got to find a way around that. If you talk to employers around the chamber board table, whether it's from the AG sector, low-skilled sector, or the high-skilled sector, somebody making silicon wafers, they will tell you our immigration system, our legal Visa system has too much red tape and bureaucracy in it. And it seems that voters agree. They recognize the need to have ready and able work force to meet our labor needs, whether it's on the low-skilled end or high-skilled end.

Ted Simons: As far as the labor needs are concerned, another aspect of the question was that you need that verification system improved.

Garrick Taylor: That's right.

Ted Simons: Strengthening, what, E-verify or just a system period?

Garrick Taylor: Or something like it. In Arizona you go into most business establishments and you'll see the placard in the window, this business participates in E-verify. You're not going to see that in every state around the country. A lot of it has to do with our legal Arizona workers act that the statewide law that was signed here that puts tough sanctions on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. It seems that the Arizona electorate has gotten to a comfort level with that. It seems it's working. And if that were to be rolled out nationwide, voters might -- They might have some comfort with that.

Ted Simons: The final aspect, the top four, the main elements of this reform plan is admitting new workers only when Americans can't be found. I asked representative Kirkpatrick, I'll ask you, how viable is something like that?

Garrick Taylor: It's going to be tough. The chamber would tend to trend towards something that is market driven, at least as much as possible. It would seem voters -- And I don't think anybody can fault this, we don't want a guest worker system that is displacing available American workers. But if you have those sectors of the economy, whether it's agriculture, whether it's high-tech, a guest worker system might be the best way to fill those positions.

Ted Simons: is there a time frame to search for those U.S. workers?

Garrick Taylor: There is, but as senator Flake at our luncheon today did not want to get too far now the front of the gang of eight today. Something he said, Ted, is that when the gang of eight's proposal finally becomes solid at the end of this congressional recess, not everybody is going to be overjoyed with what's in there. And that might be the sign that we have hit the sweet spot. That might be the bill that gets throughout house and senate. It's going to be a bill that not everybody loves.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the results as far as your statewide survey is concerned. 72% have support for this?

Garrick Taylor: It's surprising. And that is across ethnic selection, the -- Where the -- Whether you're rural or urban. You name it, it's got broad support, 72%. And it's got high support I respective of party affiliation.

Ted Simons: I was going to say sounds like Republicans, 74%, democrats, 69%. Independents, 75%. And by ideology, you've got liberals at %76 approval and Tea Party members 73%. I find it difficult to believe any questionnaire that includes the phrase "path to citizenship" would get much support from the Tea Party at all, regardless of what else is involved.

Garrick Taylor: Without my crystal ball I don't know how every respondent may have taken that question, but they were told up front, we were talking about this being incumbent upon, or being predicated on strong border security. And that seems to be the linchpin. You saw Senator McCain and senator Flake and senator Bennett, they are very aware, and to Senator McCain and Senator Flake's credit they've made sure their fellow gang of eight members know that border security has to be a top component of this package. And perhaps it's the electorate in Arizona that knowing and with some measure of confidence that the border security is going to be there, they'll support the package.

Ted Simons: So what do we take from this?

Garrick Taylor: It seems the gang of eight has hit the sweet spot. These four broad points they're laying out, it's going to have support, even the senator today mentioned that he's getting a lot of calls, a lot of feedback, but not at the pitch level of rhetoric he was seeing a few years ago.

Ted Simons: Garrett, good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Garrick Taylor:Arizona Chamber of Commerce;

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick

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