WASHINGTON, D.C. – As business leaders, agriculture and manufacturing members across the state joined for a day of action on immigration reform, a new poll shows Coloradans are ready for Congress to make moves on immigration.
The national day of action Wednesday coincided with the release of a new poll gauging where Americans stand on immigration reform. The poll released by The Partnership for a New American Economy, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers surveyed 1,000 likely voters and polled additional voters in 26 states, including Colorado.
The poll found nationally that the majority of voters across party lines believe the current immigration system is broken – with 86 percent of Republicans saying Congress should take action to fix the immigration system and 79 percent of Independents.
A poll of 582 likely voters in Colorado showed that 89 percent of Coloradans think the current immigration system needs to be fixed, and 70 percent of Coloradans said it was very or somewhat important to support comprehensive immigration reform.
During a news conference, Bonnie Petersen, executive director of Club 20, a group of business owners, community leaders and other people in western Colorado, said it’s time for Congress to listen.
“Colorado residents are ready to see this reform, and it’s imperative that we begin to move on it,” said Petersen. “We need to work with the House to make sure this gets addressed.”
One of the top reasons that Republicans cite for refusing to pass immigration reform is that the Obama administration isn’t capable of properly administering current laws, let alone a comprehensive immigration package. The poll found 72 percent of likely Colorado voters don’t think that is a valid reason for Congress to drag its heels on immigration reform.
Across the country, proponents of immigration reform say failing to act is hurting local economies.
Immigrant workers make up 80 percent of hired farm labor in the United States. The $100 billion a year agriculture industry needs to know it can count on a stable workforce to continue producing food for the country, said Nick Colgazier, director of public policy, state affairs during a joint call with reporters.
Colgazier emphasized the need for a more stable system for agricultural visas, to ensure farmers have the workers they need.
“Bottom line, we are challenged to find qualified workers or any workers that want to do seasonal labor on our farms,” Colgazier said.
While Congress has remained at a standstill on the issue of immigration reform, Bonnie said the poll sums up the sentiment Colorado and other states have on the issue.
“This issue needs to be fixed,” Petersen said.
Other findings from the poll of likely Colorado voters: When asked if Congress should take action on immigration and at the border or allow things to stay the same, 87 percent said it should take action, 5 percent said stay the same, and 7 percent weren’t sure.
Coloradans varied on their opinion of how to handle undocumented immigrants, ranging from 29 percent who think all undocumented immigrants should be deported, to 32 percent offering legal status without U.S. citizenship, 34 percent that supported legal status with eligibility for U.S. citizenship, and 4 percent who weren’t sure what to do.
In regard to the 2016 presidential election, 75 percent of those polled said they would rather vote for a candidate from a party that supports reform, 10 percent said they would prefer a candidate from a party that opposes reform, and 15 percent weren’t sure.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Mary Bowerman is a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.