|While polls demonstrate Republican primary voters are hostile up front to blanket amnesty and citizenship, they seem to recognize the need to fix our current immigration system and accept citizenship as part of a broader package of reforms that includes a border security buildup, back taxes, fines, and learning English.
Republicans want a path to citizenship that is lengthy, and that requires undocumented immigrants to jump through numerous hoops and wait many years.
Support by Republicans resembles much of that from support of Texas. 67% of Texans support immigration reform.
Why the change of heart?
Like with most social issues -- including the gay marriage debate -- conservatives take long and hard to convince. But much like with LGBT rights, Republicans seem to be being influenced by personal experience. Research done by Ayres shows Republicans' views have softened as they have gotten to know families that contain undocumented immigrants whom they respect for their hard work and devotion to family.
It is quite easy to demonize "others," especially if you know nothing of them. A clear example of this is U.S. Rep. Steve King, who is fast emerging as the right wing's de facto spokesman on immigration reform. Part of his opposition to immigration is linked to a belief that immigrants came from inherently violent cultures and would adversely affect U.S. crime rates. That for every undocumented valedictorian student, there are hundreds of drug smugglers that would benefit from citizenship through reform.
Of course, none of this is true. These are all but ignorant stereotypes. And it seems like Republicans are finally realizing just that as they find it challenging to demonize neighbors and friends who are undocumented. People who left everything they knew behind, not to smuggle drugs or commit crimes, but for an opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their family.
Undocumented immigrants have given up everything -- many including their lives -- in search for the American dream. If they don't deserve to be called Americans, then I don't know who does.
The Churches have been pivotal voices in advocating for immigration reform among conservatives. Evangelicals going as far as stating they will denounce those that block reform.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez recently announced he has the support for immigration reform by 40-50 House GOP members. He didn't give names, but insisted they would support reform when the vote came up.
Getting immigration reform passed despite opposition from the extreme right is not impossible. Republicans and Democrats already have the support from the American people, and from the future 11 million to become.