South Carolinians Want Stephen Colbert to Fill Senate Seat

PHOTO: In this Sept. 23, 2012 file photo, Stephen Colbert presents an award onstage at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

John Shearer/Invision/AP

South Carolinians want Stephen Colbert to fill Jim DeMint's U.S. Senate seat.

DeMint, a Republican with intensely conservative stances on issues such as immigration and federal spending, announced last week that he is vacating his seat to serve as president of the Heritage Foundation.

According to a poll released Monday by Public Policy Polling, a political polling firm, funnyman and South Carolina native Colbert tops the list of favored replacements, with 20 percent of the 520 voters polled choosing him as the best candidate to fill DeMint's seat.

See Also: Sen. Jim DeMint Resignation Marks Loss of Immigration Hawk

While the chances of Colbert actually filling the seat are quite slim, immigration activists might be pleased to replace immigration hardliner DeMint with Colbert.

The two men have a decidedly different take on the issue.

DeMint opposed a 2007 immigration reform bill that was supported by many Republicans, including then-President George W. Bush, calling it "amnesty."

He supports placing a fence along the nation's southern border, and he opposes a path to citizenship for undocumented workers already in the country. He also voiced concerns about the deferred action program implemented earlier this year.

Colbert, on the other hand, has used his trademark satire to criticize everything from the perception that immigrants steal jobs to the ridiculous notion that immigrants are responsible for global warming.

The Colbert Report host spent a day as a migrant farm worker and testified about the experience before a congressional subcommittee in 2010, hitting back at the idea that immigrants steal American jobs and pointing out that farm owners struggle to hire enough crop pickers precisely because Americans aren't willing to do such jobs.

"The obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables," a tongue-in-cheek Colbert said in response to testimony that farms are too dependent on immigrant labor.

"[M]y great grandfather did not travel across 4,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this country overrun by immigrants," he deadpanned.

"Maybe we could offer more visas to the immigrants, who, let's face it, will probably be doing these jobs anyway," he continued. "And this improved legal status might allow immigrants recourse if they're abused. And it stands to reason to me that if your coworker can't be exploited, then you're less likely to be exploited yourself, and that itself might improve pay and working conditions on these farms, and eventually, Americans may consider taking these jobs again."

He has ridiculed the idea of a security fence, sarcastically suggesting that any wall should include a moat filled with alligators.

Colbert also devoted time on his show to discussing the process immigrants go through on the path to citizenship, joking that people should stop complaining that the system is flawed while referring to a woman who just became a citizen...at the age of 101.

"With this example, can we just put to rest once and for all the myth that our immigration system is broken," he said. "Eulalia here proved that if you follow the rules, there is a legal path to citizenship. And it takes less than 102 years!"

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