A new poll of residents in Pennsylvania and two other battleground states shows strong support for immigrants who were unlawfully brought to the United States as children. And for those who came legally, and were permitted to stay, after war or natural disaster devastated their homelands.
The survey found that 78 percent of people surveyed in Michigan, 74 percent in Colorado, and 71 percent in Pennsylvania thought the federal government should offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and TPS holders.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that barred the deportation of young immigrants who were illegally brought into the United States by their parents. President Donald Trump ended the program, under which about 790,000 people live, work and go to school in this country, but enforcement of that 2017 termination has been blocked by the courts.
TPS, short for Temporary Protected Status, is a special immigration category that allows about 320,000 people from 10 countries to live and work in the United States because of floods, droughts, epidemics or fighting in their home nations. The program was not meant to be permanent when enacted by Congress in 1990. Some countries never recovered from natural disaster, and some TPS-holders dread forced return to violent homelands.
The United States currently grants TPS to migrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The poll was conducted across several days in May and commissioned by the Immigration Hub, a Washington advocate for progressive policies.
Trump narrowly won Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2016, while Hillary Clinton took Colorado in close voting. All three states — with a combined 45 electoral votes — are expected to play an important role in the 2020 election, where immigration promises to be a contentious issue.
The House of Representatives is reviewing a bill called the Dream and Promise Act, which provides DACA and TPS holders with a means to gain U.S. citizenship. Meanwhile, Trump has begun his reelection campaign with rallies in key states such as Pennsylvania.
“Trump has made crystal clear that his 2020 strategy is all about immigration, but voters want solutions and not carnival barking and policies that separate families,” Immigration Hub director Tyler Moran said in a statement. “The Dream and Promise Act is just that. The bill protects over one million community members, colleagues and neighbors who are Dreamers and TPS holders.”
In Pennsylvania, the poll showed, support for a route to citizenship was strong overall but split on party lines — approved by 92 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Independents, and 48 percent of Republicans. Among the 20 percent opposed overall, the breakdown was 4 percent of Democrats, 16 percent of Independents, and 37 percent of Republicans.
DACA allows undocumented immigrants to register with the government and contribute to their communities, paying taxes and holding jobs without fear of being deported. Those opposed to the program say the government must enforce its immigration laws equally, without exceptions based on age. Allowing DACA to continue, they say, makes the U.S. an “amnesty magnet” for undocumented migrants.
Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which seeks to lower both legal and undocumented immigration, has called the creation of DACA “an unconstitutional abuse of executive authority by President Obama,” and asserted that Trump has full authority to do away with the program. His organization has blamed “activist judges” for preventing the president from ending DACA.
The federal government holds the power to designate a country for TPS, and to decide when conditions merit its cessation. The courts have barred termination of TPS for Haiti, Nepal, Honduras and other countries.