One explanation of the legislative failure of most immigration reform efforts and the trepid nature with which many politicians wade into the debate could be that, when presented with the multifaceted consequences that arise from one immigration plan or another, the American public as a whole is a bit fickle on the issue.
According to a recent Reason-Rupe poll, 79 percent of Americans support the implementation of a national government-funded eVerify system to ensure that employers hire workers eligible to work in the United States. But when told of the idea of small businesses having to foot the bill — paying about $150 per employee — for part of the e-Verify program, 58 percent opposed the measure.
Among the 8 in 10 Americans who initially supported eVerify, half changed their minds upon learning that eVerify could cost employers $150 per person. These Americans tend to be more Republican, older, church-going protestants, and more likely to support the tea party movement.
The issue provides a catch-22 situation for conservatives in particular. Often, the same people who staunchly oppose more regulatory burden on small-business and big-government spending are also the biggest critics of lax immigration policy.
The poll was conducted as a bipartisan group of lawmakers put the finishing touches on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that is expected to make its way through the Senate over the course of the next month.
According to FOX News, that bill, still in its infancy, will include measures that would:
- Bring tens of thousands of low-skilled workers into the country as part of a guest worker system.
- Create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants. There would be a 10-year wait for a green card, and a total 13-year wait to apply for citizenship.
- Strengthen border security.
- Require employers to use eVerify to check immigration status of workers.
- Overhaul the legal immigration system to provide more visas for high-skilled workers.