In his latest Public Opinion Snapshot at the Center for American Progress website, TDS Co-editor Ruy Teixeira reports on an encouraging development regarding public attitudes toward immigration reform. Reports Teixeira:
…We might have expected tough economic times to inflame cultural prejudices, thereby promoting intolerance of immigrants. Instead, the reverse seems to be taking place, as confirmed by new polling from the Pew Research Center.
Their just-released 2009 Values Survey shows that 63 percent favor “providing a way for illegal immigrants currently in the country to gain legal citizenship if they pass background checks, pay fines, and have jobs,” compared to just 34 percent who are opposed. That’s up from a 58-35 split on the issue in December of 2007.
Teixeira adds that the Pew survey indicates that “moral values” in general seem to be “declining precipitously” as a voting issue., with only 17 percent now saying moral values is their “most important voting issue,” down from 27 percent in a Pew poll conducted in November 2004. Teixeira notes that “the economy/jobs is up 29 points as a voting issue, health care is up 8 points, and education is up 6 points.” He concludes,
Perhaps the decline of moral values voters has allowed the immigration issue to emerge from the shadow of the culture wars and be considered on its own merits. If so, that’s a very good thing for our country and for sound public policy.
And not a bad omen for Democrats who support immigration reform.