Yet a late February poll from Fox News found that 63 percent of Republicans favored "allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship, as long as they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check." This matched polling from 2008 and 2009 showing Republicans overwhelmingly supporting comprehensive immigration reform.
But there's a caveat, and one that is relevant to this latest ABC/WaPo poll—Republicans need to be told that these undocumented immigrants will pay a price for their lawbreakin'. The wording on this latest poll was, "Do you support or oppose a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants?" See? No punishment. To a run-of-the-mill conservative, you might as well have asked whether he supported "amnesty." But if you throw in a "pay fine" or "pay back taxes" (like the Fox News poll did), GOP support skyrockets 30-40 points. An amnesty is a blanket forgiveness. Paying a fine is, by definition, no longer amnesty.
All current proposals for reform include such penalty provisions, and few are arguing against them. These undocumented immigrants did break the law after all. Let them pay their fine and normalize their status. Everyone is happy.
Well, except for the xenophobes, but their actual number is far smaller than this latest ABC/WaPo poll would lead you to believe.