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There is solid support among African-Americans for immigration reform, as a new poll shows that more than two-thirds of the black community  favor providing a path to citizenship for immigrants.

The poll, done by Lake Research Partners, revealed that 66 percent of the more than 800 African- Americans questioned are in favor of a path to citizenship for immigrants currently in the country, including the 11 million undocumented immigrants targeted by the bipartisan bill currently under consideration by the Senate.

Only 16 percent of those in the poll opposed the reform measure.

“This support holds up after hearing both anti- and pro-reform messages, including hot button issues of the potential for immigrants to take jobs away from African- Americans” said Lake’s pollsters.

Though some immigration reform opponents have tried to sow dissension among African-Americans by saying immigrants would take jobs away from blacks, that tactic doesn’t appear to be working, based on the poll results.

Only 34 percent of respondents said immigrants take jobs away from American workers, while 76 percent of respondents said immigrants are exploited by corporations. Seventy-one percent said immigrants contribute to American culture, communities and the economy.

And while 39 percent of poll respondents said immigrants drive down wages for African-Americans, that represents a 20-point drop from 2007.

“When nativists sow this sentiment among whites, it tends to be discounted and rightly treated as extremism,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference that commissioned the poll, during a conference call with reporters.

“But when they sow it among African Americans, the resulting sentiment tends to be overvalued and treated as an essential part of the discussion — instead of being recognized as a cynical attempt to pit two vulnerable minority communities against one another. We’re here today to put this controversy to rest, to show how African-Americans take pride in our nation’s democratic values, our diversity and our ingenuity.”

President Obama arrived in Mexico City yesterday to discuss the economy and trade during a three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, but  border security and immigration reform overshadow much of the public discussion.

“I’m optimistic about us getting this done because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve seen leaders from both parties indicate that now’s the time to get comprehensive immigration reform done,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. “If we’re going to get that done, now’s the time to do it.”

Obama said reforming the U.S. immigration system is an economic imperative and since Mexico is the United States’ second-largest trading partner, it’s important for the countries not to get bogged down with border issues.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on Wednesday that it will be difficult to get  the immigration reform bill passed if border security provisions are not strengthened.

But Obama defended his administration’s efforts to control the border.

“We’ve put enormous resources into border security,” he said, but admitted “there are areas where there’s still more work to be done.”

Though Nieto has moved to limit the access Mexico permits to American security agencies, Obama said the U.S. is committed to helping in the fight against illegal drug trafficking.

“I agreed to continue our close cooperation on security, even as the nature of that cooperation will evolve,” Obama said. “As I told the president, it is obviously up to the Mexican people to determine their security structures and how it engages with other nations, including the United States.”

Originally posted at Atlanta Blackstar

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