Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says he won’t support a debt ceiling hike unless it defunds Obamacare (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)

GOP presidential hopefuls shouldn’t fear immigration reform, report argues

Republican presidential hopefuls in 2016 shouldn’t fear that supporting immigration reform will threaten their chances of winning the GOP nomination, at least according to results from new focus groups released Thursday.

As the Republican Party wrestles with how – and whether – to advance comprehensive immigration reform that allows for a pathway to citizenship, new results from the conservative research group Resurgent Republic argues that presidential candidates shouldn’t worry about significant blowback in the 2016 primaries.

Resurgent Republic commissioned focus groups, conducted by Republican pollster John McLaughlin, of Republican primary voters in Iowa and South Carolina – the two more conservative states of the three-state gauntlet (sandwiching New Hampshire) that traditionally open the presidential nominating process. The research sought to take primary voters’ temperature toward immigration reform, and understand the circumstances under which they could support reform.

The report found that primary voters in Iowa and South Carolina realize that deporting the 12 million or so undocumented immigrants estimated to currently reside in the United States is impracticable. And while those voters strongly support legal immigration, they are receptive to arguments about immigration reform.

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