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Majority Backs Path To Citizenship For Illegal Immigrants

With the immigration battle just beginning to heat up, a new poll finds that a slim majority of Americans supports the idea of allowing people here illegally to become legalized, and eventually, citizens of the United States:

A slim majority of Americans believe that illegal immigrants should be able to stay in the United States and apply for citizenship, according to a new poll that found support for citizenship is on the rise.

Fifty-one percent think illegal immigrants should be able to remain in the country and apply for citizenship, while an additional 20 percent think they should stay as guest workers. Twenty-four percent say they should have to leave the country, according to a CBS News poll releasedMonday night.

The latest survey shows an 8-percentage-point shift from the 43 percent of Americans who thought illegal immigrants should be able to stay and apply for citizenship in March 2010; 21 percent thought they should stay as guest workers while 32 percent thought they should have to leave at that time.

But along party lines, the response today is widely partisan. Only 35 percent of Republicans think illegal immigrants should be able to stay and apply for citizenship, compared with 66 percent of Democrats, according to the CBS poll. Twenty-five percent of Republicans think they should stay as guest workers, compared with 17 percent of Dems.

And while only 13 percent of Dems think illegal immigrants should have to leave the country — 36 percent of Republicans think they should have to go.

We’re only at the beginning of this battle, of course, and these numbers could change significantly in either direction as we go forward. However for the moment at least, it would appear that the American public is open to normalizing our immigration system and fixing the problems associated with it. Now, we just need our representatives in Washington to get the job done rather than playing politics.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. lankyloo says:

    Now, we just need our representatives in Washington to get the job done rather than playing politics.

    And then hell froze over….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    A slim majority of Americans believe that illegal immigrants should be able to stay in the United States and apply for citizenship, according to a new poll that found support for citizenship is on the rise.

    And my constant refrain: fine, but what about allowing legal immigrants to say in the US and apply for citizenship, or at least green cards?

    Because right now that’s not the case. There are many here on work, student and/or family visas who are not eligible to stay in the US indefinitely and get a green card. A lot of these visas have expiration dates and the legal immigrant eventually has to leave, or can remain only on a temporary and always revocable basis.

    If we’re going to allow illegal immigrants to have this path, then the least we can do is allow the same for legal immigrants, or otherwise tolerate a fairly shocking injustice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Again, at the risk of beating dead elephants and donkeys, the problem with these sorts of polls is that Zombieland has no idea of the legal niceties and dichotomies between visas, green cards, citizenship, etc. Let’s not be naive. Polling about legal terms of art such as citizenship and residency is like polling whether the peeps want the SCOTUS to overrule Miranda. They wouldn’t know Miranda v. Arizona from Miranda Richardson and they wouldn’t know immigration law from water irrigation.

    In any case, young kids brought here illegally as young kids obviously need to be treated separately and quite differently from the parolee who jumped the fence at age 25. And the illegal gardener who owns and operates his own landscaping business, and who’s been paying income and FICA taxes here for many years, obviously needs to be treated differently from the illegal who’s been living on the public dole, smoking ganja and sniffing glue. And the guy who’s been here 25 years, is married to a citizen, has had kids here, has paid income taxes here, is active in the community, etc., needs to be treated quite differently and quite separately from the dude who swam the Rio Grande a few years ago and who’s only worked per diem cash jobs. Common cents, if you catch my drift.

    There is a middle ground. And this arena is not rocket science. If we had a functioning government we could achieve a real compromise that would solve most of the problems which have been festering nearly for four decades. But the unfortunate reality is that Congress long ago jumped the shark tank, the chattering classes are a live action farce, and the public at large already unplugged their brains. What we’ll probably get will be a mishmash of half-measures and fig leaves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  4. Latino_in_Boston says:

    Rafer,

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to let all legal immigrants to apply under this bill for some kind of green card. Rather, they should expand and streamline the traditional immigration paths for work and family reunification. If you included legal immigrants under this same bill, it would take much longer (at least if the bill passes as envisioned where you would only get a green card “after everyone else.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Console says:

    Well, considering that the GOP didn’t need a majority of voters in order to hold onto the house… I’m not sure how much this poll truly matters to that caucus

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Rafer Janders says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to let all legal immigrants to apply under this bill for some kind of green card. Rather, they should expand and streamline the traditional immigration paths for work and family reunification. If you included legal immigrants under this same bill, it would take much longer (at least if the bill passes as envisioned where you would only get a green card “after everyone else.”

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be under this same bill, but it should be at least at the same time as this same bill. I think they should indeed streamline and expand the traditional work/student/family immigration paths (as well as making it much easier to get in as a political refugee, of which there is a tremendous backlog around the world waiting to be settled).

    However, what we have now is a lot of noise and attention being paid to helping out illegal immigrants — i.e. the people who broke the rules — while comparatively little is paid to sorting out the mess for legal immigrants and to overseas political refugees — i.e. those who are playing by our rules.

    Certainly, if any illegal immigrants are allowed to apply for a green card, then all legal immigrants should be allowed to do so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. john personna says:

    My mom told me about this local news:

    In suburbs of L.A., a cottage industry of birth tourism

    “Companies operating ‘maternity hotels’ cater to pregnant women from Chinese-speaking nations who want an American-citizen newborn.”

    Now the punch line is … my mom’s grandmother was “visiting from Canada” when mom’s mom was born, making her a US citizen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Davebo says:

    @Rafer Janders: Technically if you’re here on a student, work or other visa you aren’t an “immigrant”.

    You’re a visitor. These visa’s were never envisioned as a path to citizenship and are generally much easier obtained than a green card.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    @Davebo:

    Technically if you’re here on a student, work or other visa you aren’t an “immigrant”. You’re a visitor.

    And technically if you’re here as an illegal immigrant you aren’t an “immigrant”.

    You’re a trespasser.

    These visa’s [sic] were never envisioned as a path to citizenship and are generally much easier obtained than a green card.

    Yeah. You know what was also never envisioned as a path to citizenship? Entering the country illegally. So if we’re willing to make that exception, the least we can do is make the same exception for people with legitimate visas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Rob in CT says:
  11. Rob in CT says:

    By the way, I just can’t help myself…

    Doug cites an article that notes the following:

    But along party lines, the response today is widely partisan.

    …and Doug closes his post with this:

    Now, we just need our representatives in Washington to get the job done rather than playing politics.

    Our representatives in Washington are politicians. The issue is inherently political. There is sharp partisan division over the matter in the electorate. You look at this and decide that politicians need to “stop playing politics?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Our representatives in Washington are politicians. The issue is inherently political. There is sharp partisan division over the matter in the electorate. You look at this and decide that politicians need to “stop playing politics?”

    Yeah, the usual nonsense from him. They’re politicizing politics!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. grumpy realist says:

    Even one as pro-government as me is of the opinion that the Immigration Department is where all the gov’t employees just sufficiently competent to not get fired end up. Any new programs aren’t going to accomplish anything until we start running the Dept. of Immigration efficiently rather than a parking station for Keystone Kops Incompetents. (Boy do I have some stories….)

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  14. grumpy realist says:

    Oh, and if Doug wants to go on a rant about regulation, he can take a look at the America Invents Act. Twenty skilled patent lawyers sitting around a table for an hour and a half and we still couldn’t figure out all the clauses in 102 b. This is going to be Hatch-Waxman on steroids….

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  15. Ali says:

    What’s the margin of error on that 51%? Many polls have a margin of 3%, so it could be as high as 54% or as low as 48%. Nothing to crow about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Ali says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Doug, the “immigrants” you speak about are here on NON immigrant visas. If they had intended to immigrate they should have applied for the correct visa. They still can, if they can find employers to sponsor them or if they marry a US citizen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Jordan says:

    Thank you for sharing. This is great information. What are they going to do about illegal immigration in the future?

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