2006-05-11 / Editorial Page

This Week in Washington

Georgia's 9th District speaks out on immigration
By U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood

There can be no doubt where Northeast Georgia stands on immigration. 5,162 persons responded to our online poll on what to do about America's illegal immigration crisis, and they spoke with a near universal voice.

The sheer number of responses is a message in itself, and provides powerful feedback about the depth of public feelings on this issue.

To put those numbers in perspective, major daily newspapers in our district receive around 500 responses on major issue online surveys. The 9th District online survey received over 3000 responses in just the first 24 hours.

The survey was open from March 28 through April 26 to allow local newspapers, radio, and television the opportunity to make people aware it was there. Another 2000 people took advantage and voted over the month that the survey was available.

As polling experts will readily tell you, online surveys such as ours, and similar ones run by daily and weekly newspapers, cannot produce "scientific results." In voluntary online surveys such as this, there's no way to tell who voted. That makes it impossible to know for sure whether all who voted were in our district, and whether the combination of folks who participated accurately reflect the demographic makeup of our district.

But here's an interesting point the basic responses stayed the same throughout the time the poll was up. The results of the first hundred votes were within a few percentage points of the next hundred, and the following thousands. At no point was there any huge surge of responses pushing the results in one direction or the other, which would indicate a special interest group got wind of it and drummed up their members to skew the vote.

As far as is possible to tell, the five thousand votes were individual citizens, primarily of Northeast Georgia, who took the opportunity to speak out on an issue they feel is critical to America's future.

With the sheer magnitude of the vote and the landslide selections of this survey, "scientific results" become a moot point. The district has indeed spoken and been heard loud and clear.

85% of Northeast Georgians oppose the Kennedy-McCain plan to grant defacto amnesty to current illegal immigrants. And it wasn't even worded like that in our survey we intentionally left out the hot-button word "amnesty" to avoid any hint of "pushing" opinion in the poll questions.

83% or respondents agree with the House plan, the Border Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005, HR 4437, which would simply secure our borders and crack down on current illegal immigrants and their employers, without taking any new direction on what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal aliens already in the country.

Most people know in their gut it is useless to even discuss what to do about current illegal aliens already in the country, until we first gain control of our borders, and our workplaces.

People were split right down the middle on what to do about LEGAL guest workers. About half felt we ought to improve our legal guest worker program AFTER securing our borders. The other half felt we shouldn't make it easier for LEGAL guest workers to come here, even after securing our borders.

That latter position was enforced by an astounding 86% of respondents who believe we are currently allowing too many immigrants to come here, both legal and illegal.

The people of Northeast Georgia want our borders absolutely secured.

They want our workplaces enforced to prevent illegal aliens from unlawfully taking U.S. jobs.

And they don't want a single illegal immigrant currently in this country to be able to stay and gain citizenship, making a mockery of our rule of law.

I hear you loud and clear. I have forwarded the results of your feedback to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Denny Hastert (R-IL); Senator John McCain (R-AZ); Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and both our Georgia Senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.

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