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Posted on Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Immigration reform: Time for a new strategy?

By Wayne Baker


This shipping container was packed with 22 illegal immigrants from China, before U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) discovered it in Seattle. Photo released by ICE for public use.

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing immigration reform.

How broken is our current immigration system? A new consensus on immigration reform seems imminent, but does the system need fixing?

Almost two-thirds of Americans say the current system is completely broken (23 percent) or broken but still working in some areas (40 percent), according to a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). An additional 29 percent say the system isn’t broken but has big problems.

Is deportation the solution? A majority of Americans (55 percent) disapprove of deportation as the main emphasis of immigration reform, though a sizable minority (40 percent) thinks we should get serious about shipping illegal immigrant back to their home countries.

What about self-deportation? This is a euphemism that suggests freedom of choice but really means making things so harsh here that people leave. Self-deportation is not a new idea, but it gained national visibility when the Republican Party in 2012 adopted it as a plank in the party platform. Almost two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) disagree with self-deportation as a way to fix the system.

What about a path to citizenship? Almost two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) agree that this is the best option, provided certain requirements at met. Democrats (71 percent) and Independents (64 percent) are more likely than Republicans (53 percent) to view this as the best fix, but majorities in each group favor it. Just under half (45 percent) of the Tea Party also favors this option.

Surprisingly, few people—across all political affiliations—think that permanent legal residence (not citizenship) is a good choice. Supporters of this option range from a high of only 16 percent among the Tea Party to a low of 13 percent among Democrats and Republicans.

There is also a broad swath of agreement across religious lines, as PRRI learned when they sliced the data by religious affiliation. At least seven in 10 Hispanic Catholics, Hispanic Protestants, and black Protestants favor a path to citizenship. More than 60 percent of Jewish Americans, Mormons, white Catholics, and white mainline Protestants also prefer this option. Even a majority of white evangelical Protestants (56 percent) think this is the best way to fix the immigration system.

Do you think the current immigration system is broken?

Is a path to citizenship the right fix?

Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.



Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

The Government reports that about 30 to 40 % of citizens under-report their income at tax time. We're a nation of criminals, with the ultra-rich leading the way. Allen Bunch is hard on the less than 4% who are undocumented. Many have been here for decades, working for peanuts, jobs that most Americans wouldn't touch, buying cars, homes and buying goods regularly that contribute to the economy. Just read this bit: "About $11.2 billion went into the Social Security Trust Fund in 2007, and $2.6 billion went into Medicare. While that money will be used to pay retirees and health-care beneficiaries, it most likely will never be claimed by the illegal immigrants who contributed it."

Allen Bunch

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

They are CRIMINALS.  They are the very worst sort of criminals.  They willfully and deliberately STEAL the livelihoods of law abiding families.  They have no concern for anyone other than themselves.  These criminals and the so called human rights activists try to shift the blame for  their greed onto their victims. No matter how they try to spin it, inflation of the supply of labor only makes life harder for all workers, both legal and illegal.  They come to enjoy the freedom and prosperity of an orderly society and immediately set out to destroy the very rules that made this an enviable and orderly society.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

You can have liberal immigration or a welfare state. Please choose.