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Anti-Immigrant Front Group Courts Progressives With Shoddy Polling Data

By Andrea Nill Sanchez  

"Anti-Immigrant Front Group Courts Progressives With Shoddy Polling Data"

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pfir3The deceptively named anti-immigrant front group, Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), released a set of counter-intuitive polling data today suggesting that while over half of 600 polled liberals support a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the US, they also see immigration as an economic, social, and environmental liability.

The anti-immigration movement has long been trying to woo progressives by exploiting pro-labor and environmental arguments to make the case against immigrants. The Center for New Community’s (CNC) Eric Ward warns:

PFIR is simply another addition to a growing list of anti-immigrant groups being set up under the Tanton Network to give the illusion that the anti-immigrant movement is broader than it really is. This network of organizations is named after white nationalist John Tanton the founder and key leader in a network of anti-immigrant organizations, spin-offs and front groups. Key entities include Center for Immigration Studies, Social Contract Press, and the Coalition for the Future American Worker.”

PFIR’s Executive Director Leah Durant is listed as the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) Legal Analyst. Frank Morris, PFIR’s vice president, is also a board member of the Center for Immigration Studies and sits on FAIR’s national board of advisors. According to the CNC, PFIR’s “sister group,” the House Immigration Reform Caucus, chaired by Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray (CA), has an abominable voting record on environmental and labor issues.

According to the poll, 67% of liberals/progressives feel that immigration causes population growth which “negatively impacts the quality of life.” 58% feel that immigration is environmentally harmful and 63% think immigration hurts American workers. Yet over half support a pathway to citizenship.

PFIR’s confusing findings might also have something to do with their polling company, “Pulse Opinion Research,” the favored pollster of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a group which was recently pinned for fueling hate crimes with its anti-immigrant rhetoric and the Eagle Forum, a “pro-family” organization that opposes the “liberal agenda,” “radical feminists,” and supports “American identity.” The pollster has also been used to promote the presidential bids of Libertarian candidates Bob Barr and George Phillies. Yet, while Pulse Opinion Research’s findings were used to predict the relative success of Barr and Phillies, Phillies lost his bid for the Libertarian Party’s nomination to Barr who only won 0.4% of the national vote — compared to the 7% win that Pulse Opinion Research predicted.

Most immigration polling backs the claim that the majority of Americans support a legalization program for undocumented immigrants. Yet, it’s hard to find any polling that shows the same respondents holding immigrants responsible for the nation’s woes. According to a Benenson Strategy Group poll, 71% of 1,000 likely voters said that immigrants are not responsible for taking American jobs. A poll conducted by Bendixon and Associates for the progressive think tank, the New Democratic Network (NDN), found that 60% of voters in four battleground states echoed similar views. Both surveys were bi-partisan polls that consistently showed Democrats leaning towards pro-immigrant views and solutions. None of polls connected immigration to environmental or population growth concerns, however the progressive Green Party itself specifically condemns scapegoating immigrants for social and environmental problems:

“While we recognize that there must be some controls on immigration, if only for the sake of national security, the Green Party would endorse a friendlier (less intimidating) attitude towards immigration in all nations within certain guidelines…We oppose those who seek to divide us for political gain by raising ethnic and racial hatreds, and by blaming immigrants for social and economic problems.

Polling data aside, US government scientists say there’s insufficient evidence to draw any clear conclusion on immigration’s impact on the environment.

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