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Texans' opinions vary on pathways to citizenship

With immigration a hot-button issue in both border states and the national government, an in-depth look into Texans' attitudes about immigrants is necessary. A new research study shows that although Texas residents are divided about providing pathways to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S., most would be comfortable granting that status to the children of those immigrants as long as those children met certain prerequisites. These new statistics show that just 46 percent of Texas voters support a pathway to citizenship while 48 percent oppose it.

The approval numbers vary, of course, depending on factors like political party affiliation, race and living situation. White Republican voters in rural areas are most likely to oppose the idea. Urban Hispanic Democrats are its strongest supporters. About 39 percent of African American voters agree that comprehensive immigration reform should include a path to citizenship. Further, the vast majority of Texans - 83 percent - say that employers should be fined if they are found to employ undocumented immigrants.

Even with such a divide, however, a notable 66 percent of Texans would be willing to grant immigrants' citizenship as long as they paid taxes, learned English, passed extensive criminal history checks and endured a significant waiting period. Even conservative groups think that option is better than avoiding immigration reform altogether.

Ultimately, the pathway to citizenship that is supported by Texas voters is fraught with challenges, stipulations and requirements. The path to citizenship that is proposed or backed by many Texans still puts restrictions on illegal immigrants. They would be required to obtain certain jobs or attend college in order to qualify. The fact remains that scores of illegal immigrants remain in the nation. Without offering them and their family members easier paths to citizenship, that population will continue to suffer societal injustice.

Everyone deserves a fair chance at citizenship ? even people who do not serve in the military or go to college. The attitudes about immigrants and their status must change in order to accommodate comprehensive nationwide immigration reform.

Source: www.texastribune.org, "UT/TT poll: Texans split on pathway to citizenship" Ross Ramsey, Nov. 07, 2013

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