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Immigration reform is rooted in Texas views, pollsters conclude

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 12, 2018


The Bipartisan Policy Center says results of a survey to be released Friday support the view that Texas and its historic, pragmatic views on immigration are key to pushing for future reform.

As the national debate over immigration rages on, conservative-leaning Texas is seen as an important bellwether state given its growing diversity, 1,000-mile border with Mexico and closeness to hot button topics ranging from sanctuary cities, the border wall, DACA to the separation of families entering the U.S. And those issues are complicated by a growing economy dependent on its immigrant labor force.

The Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center think tank said results from the nationwide survey, conducted in conjunction with Southern Methodist University, show that, overall, Texans share an underlying belief – 68.8 percent – that “immigrants are an essential part of American society,” particularly when newcomers are willing to demonstrate a commitment to learning English, and being law-abiding citizens.

“Texans are welcoming to immigrants and they want them to be law abiding, hardworking and assimilating, integrating into society,” said Theresa Cardenal Brown, director of immigration and cross border initiatives at the center. “Texans believe it can be done and they believe it can happen.”

When asked what concerns Americans more when it comes to immigration, 47 percent of national respondents said the “lack of control over the people we are allowing in.” For Texas, that number rose to 54 percent.

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And yet, the vast majority of Texans, 64 percent vs. 52 for national respondents, believe immigration reform is possible within the next five years.

The poll, conducted in April, surveyed 1,004 likely voters nationwide, 39 percent Democrat, 37 percent Republican and 24 percent independent. Southern Methodist University’s Mission Food Texas-Mexico Center paid for an oversample of 634 Texans – 43 percent Republican, 33 percent Democrat, and 24 percent independent – in an effort to “get a better picture of the views of our community because of the importance of Texas in the national immigration debate,” explained Luisa del Rosal, executive director of the center.

The poll has an overall margin of error of 3.1 percent and was conducted by Luntz Global, polling firm of longtime Republican political strategist Frank Luntz, a frequent commentator on Fox News. Luntz has been criticized in the past of crafting a specific vocabulary in surveys to win a desired effect for clients.

“All pollsters have a reputation, but the heart of survey research are the questions, and we had input and review to ensure they weren’t leading or suggestive,” said del Rosal. “One of the big takeaways we took is how most Americans, particularly Texans, are not against immigration or immigrants but more so against a system they don’t understand, don’t perceive as fair or don’t believe the government has a handle on it… The goal of the poll was to try and determine how Texas is like the rest of the country; in some cases more or less accepting of immigration.”

When looking at what traits Americans should prioritize in immigrants, 48 percent of national respondents, vs. 57 percent of Texans, said ‘law abiding’ should be a priority. Additionally, 45 percent of Texans, vs. 41 percent of national respondents, said immigrants should be integrating into society and learning English. READ MORE