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Tea Partiers Are More Moderate on Immigration Reform Than GOP Leaders Are

Scott Olson/Getty Images

After House Speaker John Boehner presented a one-page paper on immigration principles to House Republicans at the end of January, conservatives around the country revolted. A few days later, Boehner walked back his position and now immigration reform is dead until after the midterm elections. The principles that Boehner laid out were not particularly moderatethey called for a version of the DREAM Act, legal status of undocumented immigrants only after certain strict border security metrics were met and a stronger electronic verification system. But that, apparently, is too divisive within the Republican Party to pursue during an election year.

Or is it? The Pew Research Center is out with a new poll today that throws some cold water on that reasoning: 64 percent of Republicans, including 56 percent of self-described Tea Partiers, say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally, while only 40 percent of Tea Partiers oppose giving them legal status. Presumably, most Republicans who support legal status would only do so with strict border security thresholds, but that’s exactly what Republican leaders were offering. Only 34 percent of Republicans believe undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to stay here legally.

Put simply, Republican leaders are siding with a third of their party including a minority of Tea Partiers. Meanwhile, deportations continue to rise under President Barack Obama:  

Pew Research Center