Immigration Reform Update: Immigration Reform Support Strong Among Christian Evangelicals, New Poll
Evangelical Christians have voiced their support for immigration reform and improved border security, based on new polling data.
From the 1,000 survey respondents, approximately 7 in 10 people said it is important for Congress to pass significant immigration legislation. Seven percent of respondents said new immigration legislation was "not at all" important, while nine percent were not sure.
A majority of Christian evangelicals, with 72 percent, said immigration reform should protect the unity of families, but 12 percent held a contrary belief while 16 percent were not sure. While a majority of the survey's respondents stated their support for immigration reform, 88 percent believed immigration reform legislation should respect the rule of law with 86 percent noting the bill should guarantee security on national borders.
"For years, many evangelicals have been responding to immigrants in their communities with compassion and by calling for immigration reform. What this new polling shows is widespread support for immigration reform among people in the pews," said World Relief Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Jenny Yang. "Evangelicals believe there is an urgency for Congress to reform our laws because they personally know immigrants who are affected, or they may be immigrants themselves. We hope Congress, instead of being swayed by the minority, takes up immigration reform that a majority of evangelicals across the country supports."
The numbers began to dwindle when asked about legislation providing a pathway to legal status. Nearly 6 out of 10 respondents, or 58 percent, said immigration reform legislation should create a path toward establishing a path to legal status. Twenty-four percent disagreed about providing a pathway to legal status, while 18 percent were not sure. A pathway to U.S. citizenship received more opposition from evangelicals, with 24 percent, but support also increased to 58 percent. Eighteen percent were not sure.
Most respondents did support the concept of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes both increased border security and a pathway to citizenship, with 68 percent in favor to 18 percent in opposition. If a presidential candidate was to support both aforementioned concepts, 50 percent of respondents admitted they were more likely to vote for that candidate, while 15 percent were less likely, but 36 percent said they were "neither more nor less likely to vote for that candidate."
"The survey results show that evangelicals are supportive of immigration reform, yet also wary about some of what that might include. Law and order seems to matter more, but families and faith issues seem to move evangelicals into the pro-immigration reform column. Considering the current political climate and the assumptions in the current political discourse, evangelicals are surprisingly open to immigration reforms," said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, the polling firm that conducted the survey.
"Hispanic evangelicals are glad the new research by LifeWay Research shows broad and diverse evangelical support for common-sense immigration reform," said Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president for the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. "Our prayer is that Congress can follow the example of this evangelical coalition and pass immigration reform this year."
The poll was conducted between Feb. 17 and Feb. 27, with quotas used to balance gender, ethnicity, age, region and education respondents.
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