Do Americans Even Care About Immigration Reform?

Source: Jandy Stone (faithx5) / Flickr

Immigration reform has become one of the hot topics on Washington’s to-do list. The importance of reform is indisputable — it’s the timing of the changes that’s being argued, with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) vacillating. Initially, he echoed President Barack Obama’s intentions for immediate reform, given by the president during his State of the Union address on January 28. Recently, though, Boehner has changed his mind, saying that reform should wait until 2015, when Republicans may have a better chance of a majority in the Senate as well as the House.

This year, Americans didn’t put immigration as high on their list of importance as some in Washington have, at least according to a Gallup poll released on January 16. Given 19 issues to rate as extremely important, very important, moderately important, or not important at all, Gallup found that those who viewed immigration as extremely or very important for Congress and the president in 2014 placed the issue at the bottom of the list, with 50 percent agreeing.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: Immigration and Free Trade: U.S. Progress Weak With Canada and Mexico

It fell below everything from the economy to education and health care. It was below crime, taxes, “the distribution of income and wealth,” and gun policy in terms of importance. The only issues that those polled found less important for the coming year were government surveillance, abortion, race relations, and LGBT policies.

When it comes to the specifics on immigration, according to the Gallup study, Americans are fairly evenly split on which immigration components should be dealt with first: border security or efforts to deal with undocumented immigrants already in the country. The number finding “Securing U.S. borders” to be extremely important rang in at 43 percent, compared to the 44 percent who said that “Dealing with illegal immigrants already in U.S.” is extremely important.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: Economist: Labor Market Will Gain Momentum This Year