April, 11, 2013, Louisville, KY- As an immigration reform bill is nearing completion, a new poll shows that the majority of Americans back a pathway to citizenship.

immigration reform

President Obama and Democratic lawmakers have insisted that any reform bill must include a path to legal residency for close to 11 million immigrants. At the beginning of the immigration debate, many conservative lawmakers were reluctant to add a pathway to citizenship in the current bill, but public sentiment eventually swayed those lawmakers.

Earlier this year, a poll showed that over 50 percent of Americans believed that it many of the country’s undocumented immigrants deserved a pathway to citizenship. That sentiment was echoed in the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC survey conducted between April 5th and April 8th showed that support for citizenship had increased.

Sixty-four of respondents approved of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are currently working in the United States.  However, when respondents were asked if they backed a pathway that included paying fines and back taxes and background checks support shot up to 76 percent.

The Wall Street Journal/ NBC poll also asked the survey participants if immigration added to the nation’s character by brining diversity and special skills to the nation 54 percent agreed. In a similar survey from 2010, less than half agreed with that sentiment, according to NBC News.

A pathway to citizenship would benefits many people in Kentucky.  Findings from the 2010 census showed that there are over 140,000 immigrants living in the state, of those only 34.2 percent, or 48,069, were naturalized.

Immigrants are not only valuable to Kentucky as workers, but they add billions in tax revenue and sales receipts to the state each year. Allowing legal residency would only increase tax revenues from the state, since undocumented immigrants would no longer have to live in the shadows.

When immigration reform talks began, a pathway to citizenship was a contentious issue that could have unraveled negotiations, but many Republican lawmakers, including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, said they would approve of a route to legal residency as long the final bill included enhanced border security.

With the amnesty hurdle overcome, and negotiations between the agriculture industry and labor unions have been settled, the Gang of Eight plans to introduce their reform bill as early as next Tuesday. Though it is uncertain exactly what is in the final draft, we can anticipate that visa reform, a pathway to citizenship and tougher border enforcement will be included.

Even with a comprehensive reform package, immigrants will still have to work themselves through the visa and citizenship application process, which can be challenging, especially if English is a second language.

Deportation is even more challenging from an immigrant and absolutely requires the help of an immigration attorney. Avoiding deportation requires extensive knowledge of immigration laws and a convincing defense.

Louisville immigrants don’t have to deal with their immigration needs alone.  Attorney Rusty O’Brien has been focused on helping individuals and families fight with all their immigration issues.

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