Poll: Majority in SC support immigration reform bill

Published: Jun. 13, 2013 at 6:42 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2013 at 6:42 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A majority of South Carolinians support the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently making its way through the Senate, according to a poll released by Harper Polling.

The poll, commissioned by the Partnership for a New American Economy, says 62% of the 538 people polled in the Palmetto State strongly or somewhat support the reform bill created by the "Gang of Eight".

The poll also says 56% of those polled are more willing to support an elected official who plans on voting for the legislation.

South Carolina senior Sen. Lindsey Graham is one of the eight senators who helped to craft the bill. Graham voted yes earlier this week to begin debate on the bill while junior Sen. Tim Scott voted against moving forward on debate.

However, Graham has issued some tough talk on the issue in the past.

"I don't mind walking away from the immigration bill if it's a bad bill," said Graham in a tweet from his twitter account back in March. "I will do it in a heartbeat."

But voters appear to want the issue addressed soon as 67% of those polled say it is "very important" to fix the immigration issue this year.

From picking fruit, to washing dishes, representatives from various hospitality, tourism and agriculture groups say undocumented workers are already here, and granting them a path to citizenship would make good fiscal sense.

It's estimated that undocumented Hispanic workers in South Carolina alone generate roughly $7 billion for the state economy. Agriculture leaders say they're already experiencing a shortage of laborers, and without a long term fix to keep the majority of their workers in the country, they may have to move their operations overseas.

"The pursuit of happiness is not only for those fortunate enough to be born in this country," said entrepreneur Ruben Montalvo. "It is a human right. Why on earth would we turn our back to people who want to give us their very best? The productive people who are improving our communities?"

The bill still has a tough hill to climb in Congress. While Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said the bill will probably pass the Senate, the legislation's current form faces uncertain prospects in the House of Representatives.

In all, the poll attracted 41 percent of the state's Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats, and 22 percent of independents.

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