LITTLE ROCK — The head of Arkansas’ largest business lobby said Wednesday he hopes new national polling that shows support for immigration reform even in numerous Republican-held congressional districts will nudge Arkansas’ GOP House delegation toward getting on board.
In a conference call with reporters, Randy Zook, president of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce-Associated Industries of Arkansas, said the poll showed support for immigration reform in 20 congressional districts that are now held by Republican incumbents and are widely viewed as competitive.
Zook said the poll results are in line with the findings of a survey conducted in Arkansas in June.
Basswood Research interviewed a total of 1,000 likely voters on Nov. 2-3 in congressional districts in California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The margin of error for the overall sample was plus or minus 3.1 percent.
The poll found that across the entire sample group, 78 percent said they supported the comprehensive immigration reform bill known as the Dream Act and 16 percent said they opposed it.
Also, 80 percent said they supported use of the E-Verify system to check workers’ immigration status and 13 percent said they opposed it, while 71 percent said they supported an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and 21 percent said they opposed it.
Seventy-two percent said they supported increased fines for employers who hire undocumented immigrants and 23 percent said they opposed them; 67 percent said they supported increasing border patrol and fencing and 24 percent said they opposed it; and 62 percent said they supported increasing legal immigration and 30 percent said they opposed it.
"I think this is proof that there is widespread support in the public across the country and that Congress can find good reason to move forward on immigration reform," Zook said.
He acknowledged that no member of Arkansas’ all-Republican U.S. House delegation has yet expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform but said he hoped the poll data would help to persuade them.
He pointed to the results of a poll conducted June 3-4 by Public Policy Polling, which surveyed 611 Arkansas voters and found that 62 percent supported a bipartisan Senate bill on immigration reform and 27 percent opposed it.
When asked if they would support an earned path for citizenship for undocumented immigrants, 78 percent of respondents said they did and 19 percent said they did not.
Asked if they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who supported comprehensive immigration reform that included an earned path for citizenship, 58 percent of respondents said they would be more likely and 22 percent said they would be less likely.
The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percent.