Three out of four South Carolinians support immigration reforms that include giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, according to a Winthrop University poll released Wednesday.
The results to that poll question – asked exclusively for The State – were nearly the same for registered voters who identified themselves as Republicans and Democrats. According to the poll, 77 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats support a immigration reform plan that is line with a much-anticipated proposal from the U.S. Senate’s “Gang of Eight.”
That group of eight U.S. senators put forward a reform plan Wednesday that would offer undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship – but one that would take more than a decade, and require the payment of fines and back taxes.
“It’s refreshing to know that many (self-identified) Republicans support the path to citizenship,” said Chip Felkel, a longtime S.C. GOP consultant in Greenville.
Republican touting of the reform plan in recent weeks could help explain the state’s 3-to-1 support for it, said Winthrop Poll director and political scientist Scott Huffmon.
The poll asked respondents whether they would support or oppose a “path to citizenship” as part of larger immigration reform.
Winthrop pollsters asked respondents whether they would support giving legal, documented immigrants priority over illegal immigrants in applying for citizenship, requiring immigrants seeking citizenship to take English proficiency exams, ensuring immigrants are paying taxes and imposing a fine for those who are here illegally.
According to the poll, about 17 percent of self-described S.C. Republicans or GOP-leaning registered voters oppose that plan, compared with about 14 percent of self-described Democrats or Democrat-leaning registered voters.