The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Sunday, Oct. 4, 6:03 p.m.

Parties agree on need for immigration reform, disagree as to how

In a new Gallup poll released Wednesday, a majority of Americans are widely in support of immigration reform, regardless of political party affiliation.

In totals ranging from 59 to 95 percent, Republicans, Independents and Democrats were all in support of five specific immigration reform measures: Employers are required to verify that all new hires are legally living within the U.S.; undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are to be allowed the chance to become legal residents or citizens if they meet certain requirements; a system will be created to track the departures of foreigners who enter the U.S. through air- and seaports; the number of visas for legal immigrants who have advanced skills in technology and science will be increased; and government spending on security measures and enforcement at U.S. borders will be increased.

Republicans and Independents generally favored an employer hire requirement while Democrats favored citizenship opportunities for undocumented immigrants.

Increasing border security and enforcement was the least favored reform, mainly because it entails more government spending.

These five measures would be somewhat incompatible if they were all implemented at once, as they all differ in perspective. Above all, the most important result of this poll is that it shows the majority of Americans have significant momentum for immigration reform.

Calling themselves the “Band of Eight,” a group of eight U.S. senators, including New York Democrat Charles Schumer and Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida, have taken things into their own hands by creating a bipartisan coalition geared towards coming up with an internal plan to combat the liberal reform plan proposed by President Barack Obama last week.

The widely varied — besides the fact that none are female — group of experienced senators consists of four Republicans and four Democrats.

The nationwide variation in regions, ideals and situations make immigration reform one of the hardest topics to tackle in Washington, D.C. A comprehensive approach was attempted during former President George W. Bush’s term with large input from McCain and late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Unfortunately the hourglass ran out when Bush’s term ended.

One of the controversial components of the comprehensive approach proposed in 2007 was a path to citizenship — something Obama said must be included in this proposal or he will reject it.

Ultimately, an obstinate paranoia about foreigners continues to influence public opinion. Americans may be open for conversation and willing to acknowledge the failures of past immigration policy, willing to get behind another comprehensive approach; but when push comes to shove, Americans are going to have to make some hard choices. It is imperative to keep in mind that parties will not clean house, going into this discussion.

Fight for your principles, and take what you can get; but, above all, get something passed. It’s desperately needed.

Logan Nee is a third-year economics and political science student.