Top Nevada Republicans pushing immigration plan

CARSON CITY — Former Nevada Gov. Robert List and other top Nevada Republicans are calling on Congress to approve an immigration plan that provides a route to citizenship for the 11 million people who are in the country illegally.

List said in a Thursday telephone news conference that he was encouraged that a new Harper Polling survey of 678 Nevadans found 64 percent support the immigration bill before Congress. The poll, taken June 3-5, found 51 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats support the bill.

But Republican support for immigration reform increases to 82 percent if Congress approves tougher border security, and makes those in the country illegally pay fines, learn English, go through background checks and wait as long as 13 years before acquiring citizenship, he said.

“America has always been a nation of immigrants and always will be,” List said.

“We truly need to secure the border,” added former Republican Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury. “We need a bipartisan solution.”

But another new poll, taken by University of Nevada, Las Vegas political science professor David Damore for Latino Decisions, found what any politician knows: most Hispanic voters don’t like Republicans. Forty-six percent of them have never voted for even one Republican.

Damore said the Hispanic distrust of Republicans is so great that it might be a generation before many feel comfortable voting for Republicans. That is important in a state like Nevada where 15 percent of voters in November were Hispanic.

“It is going to be hard for the Republicans to win the under-30 Hispanic vote for at least a generation,” he said Thursday.

His national poll found 77 percent of Hispanic voters have a favorable view of President Barack Obama, but they give Republicans in Congress a 33 percent favorable rating, compared with 68 percent approval for Democrats.

The national Latino Decisions poll of 500 Hispanic registered voters was conducted nationwide May 25 through June 1. The results have a plus or minus 4.4 percentage point margin of error. The Harper poll has a 3.7 percentage point margin of error.

Latino Decisions asked Hispanic voters if they would be more likely to vote Republican if that party took the lead in passing comprehensive immigration reform. A total of 45 percent said they would be more likely to vote Republican, but 8 percent said it would not matter and 38 percent said they would not care what Republicans did. But if Democrats took the lead on immigration reform, 63 percent said they would be more likely to support that party.

Just how important immigration reform is to registered Hispanics also was explored by the poll. Two-thirds of the respondents said they know at least one person in the United States illegally; 6 percent said this person was a member of their family, while 45 percent said it was a friend. Another 45 percent said they know friends and family members who are in the country illegally.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.

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