WASHINGTON — Oklahomans overwhelmingly support the main provisions of the Senate-passed immigration reform bill — tighter border security and a 10-year path to citizenship — according to a poll conducted for a business group pushing the issue in Congress.
Four out of five Oklahomans support a package that would boost funding for border security and require illegal immigrants to pay taxes, a fine and an application fee, have a job, no criminal record and wait 10 years to gain citizenship, according to the poll, taken by the Oklahoma City firm CMA Strategies.
Of that 80 percent, 59 percent said they would strongly favor it and 21 percent said they somewhat favor it; the requirements for citizenship mentioned in the poll question are among those in the Senate bill.
At the same time, 39 percent of those polled would immediately deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, according to the poll.
The U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill earlier this year that both of Oklahoma's senators opposed. The House has yet to present a legislative package but is not expected to follow the Senate's lead.
The Oklahoma poll was conducted for the Partnership for the New American Economy, which was launched by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Rubert Murdoch and other business leaders to promote immigration reform.
“The strong support for meaningful immigration reform in Oklahoma reflects the broad consensus that we are seeing across the country,” John Feinblatt, chairman of the group said.
“Oklahomans, like most Americans, understand that immigration reform will benefit American workers, American companies, and America's economy as a whole.”
Veteran Republican pollster Pat McFerron, a partner in CMA Strategies, said Tuesday that the results mirror those of a poll he took in April; in fact, support for the Senate immigration reform package was actually a bit higher in the most recent poll, which was taken from Sept. 2 through Sept. 5, he said.
McFerron said he was shocked by the level of support in Oklahoma for the package.
“Oklahomans of different stripes are united on this issue,” McFerron said, adding that those who vote in Republican primaries are just as supportive as are those who vote in Democratic primaries.
The poll of 500 registered voters had a margin of error of 4.3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
Nearly three-quarters of those polled agreed with the statement that “the current immigration system is de facto amnesty for illegals and Congress needs to act.”
And 53 percent agreed with the statement that the nation needs the skilled and unskilled labor immigrants bring.