Poll: Public Losing Interest in Immigration Reform Following Boston Bombing

Congress must act quickly in order to hold the public's attention on immigration.


The Boston bombings have cemented the opinions of politicians on both sides of immigration reform as public enthusiasm wanes.

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A new Quinnipiac poll out finds public support for immigration reform falling rapidly in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

[BROWSE: Political Cartoons on Immigration]

In a matter of weeks, support for giving immigrants who entered the country illegally a path to citizenship has dropped from 59 percent to 52 percent, which is the lowest number thus far. And 30 percent of voters now believe that immigrants who crossed the border illegally or overstayed their visas should be required to return home before they can become citizens.

For some, the apprehension to give immigrants currently in the country illegally a path to citizenship is related to Boston. Nearly a quarter of those polled (22 percent) said that they believed giving immigrants a path to citizenship would lead to more terrorism.

Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev emigrated to the U.S. in 2002 and were granted asylum. While Tamerlan was a legal resident, Dzhokhar became a U.S. citizen in 2012.

[VOTE: Will the Boston Bombing Derail Immigration Reform?]

Tamar Jacoby, the president of ImmigrationWorks USA, says that while the bombings have been used by some lawmakers on the hill to enforce the notion that legalizing the country's 11 million immigrants who entered the country illegally,would be dangerous, many were already against sweeping reform.

"Boston cemented what people already thought about immigration reform," Jacoby says. "It gave opponents another reason to stop it and proponents another reason to move faster."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking member of the Senate's Judiciary committee, has said that the bombings in Boston should be a clear sign that it's time to put the brakes on immigration reform.

[PHOTOS: Thousands Rally for Immigration Reform]

Others like Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has called that assumption ridiculous and has said that if Congress would have acted on the "gang of eight's" 800-page immigration bill earlier it could have actually made a difference.

"Our bill actually strengthens security and the events of Boston, if anything, should importune us to leave the status quo and go to a proposal like ours," Schumer said.

One provision within the immigration legislation requires government agencies to more closely monitor the movement of individuals as they travel internationally.

But another poll this week showed that the American public is not convinced that immigration reform will make them safer. Only 36 percent felt like the Boston bombing attacks should be a important factor in the immigration debate.

[READ: Senators Spar Over Immigration Reform in Light of Boston Bombing]

A Pew Research Center poll showed that only 14 percent of Americans thought immigration reform would make the country more secure. More than 55 percent said they did not think that passing immigration reform would change their safety at all.

The promising news for immigration advocates is that most Americans are not that engaged at this point. Many have yet to make up their minds. While 44 percent of Democrats favor immigration legislation and 22 percent oppose it, 33 percent have not formed an opinion yet. Among Republicans, only 30 percent support the bill, 34 percent are against it, but nearly 40 percent are still on the fence.

"It's normal to see ups and downs in the polling as we go from the original honeymoon stage," Jacoby says. "This is not one grand bargain. There is a compromise on every page. This is 536 people with thousands behind them guiding their hands working together on a Swiss watch."

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