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Immigration finds some Common Ground in local survey

Nov 24, 2019

Discussion group Saturday at the forum on immigration at the D&C.
Credit Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

Large majorities of Democrats and Republicans in the 25th Congressional District share ‘common ground’ on immigration issues.

The results of a survey conducted recently of 995 people in the 25th district helped demonstrate the goal of one of the sponsoring organizations behind Saturday’s discussion held at the Democrat and Chronicle downtown on Saturday.

Common Ground Solutions looks for ways to foster non-partisan, civic engagement and helping forge common ground solutions to difficult issues. It worked together with another non-partisan civic group, Voice of the People, to organize the forum.

The survey, that was revealed at the forum, was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.

The issue discussed this past weekend was immigration, and the thorny issues now before members of Congress.

One of several survey results discussed Saturday included DACA,  the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals  program. Of those who responded to the survey in the 25th Congressional District, 81% overall (including 71% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats) supported the concept of providing legal status to immigrants who came to the U.S. as children illegally, and in 10-12 years, making them eligible to apply for citizenship. That was similar to survey results for the U.S. population as a whole.

Representative Joe Morelle was among those in the room of more than 50 people as results of a survey given to his constituents was discussed.

He says this conversation was different than a town hall experience.

Rep. Joe Morelle talks with constituents at Saturday's forum.
Credit Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

“Not that I don’t love town halls, because we do them, but they tend to be people giving their opinions, which is fine. Here they had to react to proposals; give their opinions about it, but got a lot more data that they had to respond to, so I thought it was a very useful exercise,” Morelle said after the forum.

One of the participants in Saturday’s conversation was Anthony DeSanctis, who said that although he didn’t come from the same political background as Morelle, who is a Democrat, he found it interesting that people from both major political parties are not really all that far apart on some issues. But he would have liked to see greater diversity in the ages of people who showed up.

“It would have been great to see some younger people here too because I’m an older 50s year old guy, I’m sure they don’t think the way I think, so it would have been nice to see some of the younger kids here as well,” DeSanctis said.

Howard Konar, who founded Common Ground Solutions, hopes that these forums can eventually spread to all of the congressional districts around the nation. He is glad the discussion part of this exercise limits the number of people who are part of the forum.

“I think people felt comfortable expressing what was on their minds and it was a good group. Maybe if there were 100 or 200 people it might not work as well, but in a group of around 50 I think it was just about right, Konar said.”

Konar was pleased with the way the conversation developed, saying that, “it shows that people are following the news, and they’re engaged.”

Rep. Joe Morelle talks about issues before Congress involving immigration: