Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is no doubt delighted about the CNN poll on immigration. There are quite a few goodies in there and some needed ammunition against liberal Dems threatening to wreck immigration reform over border security.
- Americans favor immigration reform akin to the Gang of Eight plan (51 to 45 percent), Republicans are split 48 to 48 percent. (Independents are statistically the same.)
- By a 62 to 36 percent margin, Americans say the focus should be on border security not a pathway to citizenship. Even Dems favor a border security focus by a 50 to 49 percent margin.
- Younger voters (56 to 38 percent) are much more supportive of immigration reform than are older voters (40 to 57 percent).
The bottom line is that Americans, even Republicans, are fine with immigration reform so long as the border security measures are real and central. That is precisely the argument that Rubio has been making. To most Americans, efforts to strengthen border security measures are not “poison pills” as the left-wing echo chamber is chanting, but smart policy.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) now has quite a dilemma. The Democratic base really wants immigration reform (59 to 38 percent), but holding it up over enhanced border security is a loser for him. Conversely, a Republican who votes for immigration reform with tougher border security measures will be in good shape with the electorate, while a Republican who tosses aside a real opportunity for improved border enforcement may have some explaining to do.
In some sense, the best political position for the GOP would be to vote for an immigration reform bill with enhanced border measures and have Dems oppose it. And that is precisely what may happen.