Immigration Activist Mobilize Community in GOP District

"You can't listen to their stories and not look at them and put yourself in their situation. It's not something I'm taking lightly," he continued.

Miller could not be reached for comment, but his staff said he was in an "information-gathering stage." Miller is seeking input from his different constituencies and waiting for a bill to be put forward before taking a position on the current immigration reform effort.

Whatever Miller's reason, most Californians, including many in Miller's party, already support immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship, according to a recent poll conducted by USC Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times. The poll found that 76 percent of Republicans support allowing undocumented immigrants with no criminal record to "go to the back of the line" and earn their citizenship by learning English and paying back taxes and a penalty. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats and 83 percent of those with no party preference also said they were in favor.

The poll indicates a drastic change in public opinion. In Nov. 2010, only 41 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats supported allowing undocumented immigrants to stay permanently.

For Miller, and for others balancing different constituencies in changing districts, shifting political positions can be a tricky proposition.

"Whatever their beliefs on policy, congressmen have to worry about the short term. They're always running for reelection," said UC Riverside professor Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of the National Asian American Survey. "Even though his district is changing, it may not be changing fast enough for him to come out strongly for immigration reform. He might alienate other voters."

For many, of course, electoral politics are beside the point.

"It's not about parties, it's about families, it's common sense" said Amulfa de la Cruz, director of Mi Familia Vota, a non-partisan organization that promotes civic participation. "The community has spoken. Now we need [Congress] to make it happen."

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