A poll released Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that a record three-quarters of Californians support the possibility of legalizing the more than 2 million illegal immigrations currently living and working in the state.
These poll results come after President Barack Obama called this week for “common sense, comprehensive” reform on the nation’s immigration laws.
Bay Area politicians are also on board, according to the San Francisco Examiner. House Minority Leader and San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi echoed President Obama’s sentiments:
“Now, we simply need the will and the courage to act. Let’s work together to honor our values, respect our nation’s immigrants, and pass legislation that makes America more American.”
In the great immigration debate, California’s demographics and politics can be viewed as a microcosm for the future of the rest of the country.
According to NBC Latino, there will be as many Latinos living in California as whites within six months. By the end of 2013, California’s rapidly growing Hispanic population will become the largest group in the state.
Though this population growth – in both California and the nation – has long been predicted, the Public Policy Institute’s poll indicates a sea change in people’s opinions about immigrants’ place in America. The poll found a record-high 63 percent of Californians view immigrants as a benefit to the state because of their hard work and job skills.
The widely held public opinion that immigrants are an economic burden, however, is on the decline in California.
The poll found a record-high 76 percent of those surveyed support allowing illegal immigrants to keep their jobs and eventually achieve legal residency. Meanwhile, only 21 percent prefer deporting illegal immigrants.
U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a San Jose Democrat and the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, echoed this sea change, as well as President Obama’s sentiment that “the time is now” to overhaul federal immigration policy.
“…[federal lawmakers] have an historic opportunity to fix the nation’s broken immigration system from top to bottom in a bipartisan fashion so it works for families and our economy. Immigration forged our country into the great nation that we are today, and now more than ever it will be key to driving the United States forward in this new century.”