In a surprising defeat, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently lost his Republican primary election to a candidate who took a harder right-wing stance on immigration. Many political analysts are viewing this primary as a referendum on the broader – and potentially doomed – future of immigration reform.
Yet, it is the loudest of voices that are heard in the typical primary election, and one primary result, even if it does concern the House Majority Leader, is not necessarily indicative of wider public sentiment. In Utah, a new poll shows a strong base of support for measures that would amend immigration law to allow more immigrants to become legal residents.
Conducted by the University of Utah, the new poll captured the opinions of a random pool of 799 registered voters throughout the state. More than three quarters of survey respondents – 77 percent – said that they supported increased opportunities for legal immigration.
Perhaps it is not surprising then that more than 80 percent of Utahns also think legal immigration is beneficial for the Utah economy. Indeed, at a recent “farm-to-fork” discussion involving the Utah Farm Bureau, representatives from the manufacturing, restaurant and agriculture industries complained of the trouble they have with filling openings and the complicated procedure that goes with hiring immigrant workers. The H-2A Visa Program, which is for seasonal agricultural workers, was specifically mentioned.
Utahns were less robust in their support for illegal immigration; even though most got behind the idea of increasing opportunities for legal immigration, pollsters found that 63 percent believe that illegal immigration harms the local economy. However, 41 percent still supported some form of amnesty for those who are currently in the country illegally, with 45 percent against amnesty. A majority of younger voters – those under 30 – approved of amnesty.
There is substantial support in Utah for immigration reform. But will it be enough to push through the political gridlock? Another survey of political insiders conducted by utahpolicy.com found that 48 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Republicans believe Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform measures within the next one to five years. While few Utahns would fail to appreciate a greater level of optimism from those with political influence, combined with the Obama Administration’s escalating efforts to promote immigration reform, it might just be enough for real change to be on the horizon.
Of course, if you are facing immigration issues, or if a family member is having trouble with the immigration process, you likely do not have time to await the outcome of reform efforts. Pursuing a solution to your immigration problem is possible now with the help of an experienced Utah immigration attorney. An immigration overhaul is something you might hope for, watch for and follow with interest – but consulting an immigration attorney is something that could help you today.