Ohioans Believe Immigration System Is Broken

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UPDATED: Tuesday November 12, 2013 6:51 PM

With the ongoing immigration debate taking place in Washington, a new poll finds Ohioans overwhelmingly believe the current system is broke and needs reform.

But a vote on the immigration bill could spell political trouble for Ohio's John Boehner.

The results from the poll, conducted by Harper Polling, a firm associated with Republicans and working on behalf of Karl Rove's super PAC American Crossroads, found 74 percent of Ohioans believe the current immigration system is broken.

On the question of reform, 72 percent of Ohioans support a plan that would make undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. pay a penalty, learn English, pass a criminal background check, pay taxes and wait a minimum of 13 years before they can be eligible for citizenship.

On another reform proposal, 68 percent of Ohioans would support a plan that would secure the border, expand Visas for high-skill workers and farm workers, provide an employer verification program, allow young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents an opportunity to earn citizenship, and provide visas to live and work in the U.S. legally to undocumented immigrants without a criminal record who pay penalties and back taxes.

"The public opinion is pretty squarely in favor of immigration reform," said Pat Valente, a former staffer in both the Voinovich and Taft administrations.

Valente is currently the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition Executive Director and says immigration reform would benefit Ohio’s economy.

"My group is especially anxious for reform because we simply don't have the scientists and engineers in Ohio and around the country to stay competitive with other countries in the high tech sector," said Valente.  "It's pure madness that we're educating the best and brightest in our universities, and then we cannot keep them in this country because of our broken system."

The poll results also find that Ohio voters will be more likely to vote for candidates who favor immigration reform, according to HarperPolling.

Nearly half of those surveyed, 49 percent, say they would be more likely to vote for an elected official who votes for immigration reform.  Only 16 percent say they would be less likely.

An overwhelming number of Ohioans - 72 percent - believe it's important for Congress to pass immigration reform this year.

The US senate did pass an immigration bill earlier this year.

Democrat Sherrod Brown voted yes, while Republican Rob Portman joined 31 GOP colleagues in opposing it.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the GOP-lead House.

GOP Congressman Steve King of Iowa has hinted he may lead an effort to oust Speaker John Boehner if he brings immigration reform to the House floor.

Kentucky senator and likely GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul told a conservative radio show last month that if Boehner "allows something to pass out of conference that looks anything like the Senate bill and is passed with a majority of Democrats, I think that will be the final thing he does as speaker."

Boehner has previously said that there are disagreements on the immigration issue, but it remains a goal of his to get a bill through the House.

The automated poll was conducted Oct. 19-20 and surveyed 501 likely Ohio voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

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