Voters oppose Obama’s & Boehner’s work-permits-first plans for illegal aliens by 2-1 landslide (NEW POLL)

A new national poll shows that by more than a 2-1 margin, voters oppose President Obama’s and Speaker Boehner’s proposals to give work permits to illegal immigrants before full implementation of interior, workplace and border enforcement measures. 

The most popular option chosen by survey respondents was to remove the ability of illegal immigrants to have U.S.  jobs and benefits, and to encourage them to return to their home countries. 

It is clear that most voters would rather not reward immigration lawbreakers with the ability to compete directly with Americans for jobs. But the poll shows that should some political compromise ever include work permits, it will have to be constructed far differently from the way President Obama and Speaker Boehner have proposed.

Voters were asked:

(QUESTION) If the U.S. government were to offer some kind of legalization to any group of illegal immigrants, should they be given work permits in the first year or only after Congress certifies that all promises on border, interior and workplace enforcement are fully implemented?”

The results:

  • 25% said work permits during the first year before new enforcement

  • 59% said work permits only after Congress certifies full implementation of all border, interior and workplace enforcement

  • 16% were not sure

The Pulse Opinion Research poll of 1,000 likely voters was sponsored by the non-partisan NumbersUSA Education and Research Foundation, which favors lower immigration levels. It was conducted within two weeks of Boehner publicly releasing his immigration outline and Obama saying that passing his immigration plan is a top priority for the year. The poll did not mention Obama or Boehner by name.    


Most of the large mainstream media repeatedly misrepresent the S. 744 bill passed by the Senate.  Because the bill has some vague triggers about enforcement before giving green cards, reporters tend to say that enforcement comes first. 

But the truth is that illegal aliens would get legal status and work permits in the first year of S. 744,  before any new enforcement. The bill’s sponsors themselves have publicly stated that they could not support hard enforcement triggers even for the later path to citizenship.

Boehner’s “Immigration Principles” that he released in January are a bit more vague on the subject. There is nothing in their call for work permits for nearly all illegal aliens that suggests that the work permits would be delayed for any enforcement.  And one of the key figures working with House GOP leaders on the principles was Rep. Paul Ryan who has made a number of public statements that illegal aliens would get work permits in the first year of that legalization plan. 

In effect, the whole debate in much of the news media over what Congress might do this year on immigration is based on a failure to either recognize or admit that Pres. Obama’s favored S. 744 and Speaker Boehner’s outline are “work-permits-and-legal-status-first” plans that are fundamentally at odds with what voters feel about “enforcement first.”  


In the new poll, voters were asked:

QUESTION) Do you support or oppose proposals to encourage most illegal immigrants to go back home on their own by keeping them from getting jobs and public benefits here?” 

The results: 

  •  41% Strongly support

  • 22% Somewhat support

  • 14% Somewhat oppose

  • 14% Strongly oppose

  •   9% Not sure

With 63% strongly or somewhat supporting, this was the most popular of options offered in the poll much more popular than any of the options involving deportation or work permits and legal status. 

The poll did find considerable sympathy for one sub-group of the illegal population, young adults who were brought to the United States as children.  Despite an enormous news media crusade to grant them amnesty, the percentage of voters who said they are “very sympathetic” to the so-called DREAMers request for work permits was only 28%.  However, another 38% of voters said they are “somewhat sympathetic.” 

But the level of sympathy plummeted for illegal immigrants who came as adults:

  • 6% “very sympathetic” to “adult foreign citizens who came here on vacation, as students or temporary workers and then overstayed their visas” (21% were “somewhat sympathetic”)

  • 6% “very sympathetic to “adult foreign citizens who crossed the U.S. borders illegally” (19% were “somewhat sympathetic”)

So, let’s keep in mind the key shared ingredients of the format for immigration reform promoted by both Democrat Obama and Republican Boehner:

  • Work permits & legal status for nearly all illegal immigrants

  • Those rewards are to be given in the first year before any — let alone all —  immigration enforcement is implemented.

This new poll finds tiny voter support for either of those components.  Time for Obama and Boehner to scrap everything and start again.

ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA 

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