Majority Of Americans Support Extending DACA, Allowing Dreamers To Become Citizens

Two polls find that most Americans support letting DACA beneficiaries to stay in the United States. Will that help move Congress to act?


A poll conducted prior to yesterday’s announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be ending in six months unless Congress takes action to save it finds that a majority of Americans oppose ending the program:

Voters overwhelmingly support allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to stay in the country, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, placing President Donald Trump’s decision to wind down the controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at odds with public opinion.

A majority of voters, 58 percent, think these undocumented immigrants, also known as Dreamers, should be allowed to stay and become citizens if they meet certain requirements — a sentiment that goes well beyond the existing DACA program. Another 18 percent think they should be allowed to stay and become legal residents, but not citizens. Only 15 percent think they should be removed or deported from the country.

Support for allowing these immigrants to remain in the U.S. spans across party lines: 84 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents and 69 percent of Republicans think they should stay.

“Given the deeply polarizing nature of immigration issues, the broad support for allowing Dreamers to stay in the United States is notable,” said Morning Consult co-founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. “Just 24 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats say that Dreamers should be deported.”

The same holds true for Trump’s electoral base. Two-thirds of self-identified Trump voters think the Dreamers should stay; only 26 percent think they should be deported.

Among voters who say they strongly approve of Trump’s job performance as president, 60 percent think these immigrants should be allowed to stay, compared with only 33 percent who think they should be deported.

As noted, this poll was conducted prior to yesterday’s announcement so it will be interesting to see what impact that will have on future polling on this issue. If it’s anything like what we’ve seen in the past, though, it’s likely that they will show overwhelming opposition to what the Trump Administration has done, and supports the idea of Congress stepping in to save the program before it expires in six months. In that regard, the most notable parts of the poll are those that show Republicans generally and Trump supporters in particular support the idea that the Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the country, while less than 30% of both groups support the idea of deporting these individuals. Looking deeper into the poll results, we find that 69% of self-identified Tea Party supporters are in favor of the idea of allowing Dreamers to stay in the country, with a plurality supporting the idea that they should eventually be allowed to become citizens and the remainder saying that they should at least be permitted to become permanent legal residents (i.e., “Green Card” holders). The same is true of self-identified conservatives and residents of the south, widely perceived as the most conservative part of the state. In fact, according to this poll, there isn’t a single demographic group that doesn’t essentially support extending DACA. The only division appears to be on the issue of whether or not they should eventually be permitted to become citizens, and even there the results for every group finds that a plurality that is close to a majority supports the citizenship option.

Another poll released by YouGov finds essentially the same results, although it has somewhat different results when it comes to self-identified Trump supporters:

President Trump’s decision on Tuesday to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals kept a promise he made during the campaign – a promise that matters to those who voted for him last November. The DACA program – which protects undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children and grants temporary legal status to those “dreamers” – is supported by most Americans, according to the latest Economist/YouGov poll. But Trump voters overwhelmingly oppose it, while Republicans are closely divided.

The poll was completed this weekend, before the announcement that the program would end. But implementation will be delayed, offering Congress a chance to pass legislation to permit the 800,000 young adults who would be affected to remain in the country. DACA was created through a 2012 executive order by former President Obama, and never was authorized by Congress.

As of last weekend, the public overall would have kept the program – less than a third favored ending it. A majority of Trump voters and just about half of Republicans said they would end it.

Here are the numbers:

YouGov DACA Poll Chart One

YouGove DACA Poll Chart Two


With numbers like this, and more likely to come, one has to wonder what impact this will have on efforts in Congress to save the DACA program before it expires in six months. As I noted in my post over the weekend, top Republicans such as Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch, as well as a host of other Republicans such as Florida Governor Rick Scott and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis were urging the President not to end the program and voicing support for the idea of Congress acting to extend it if the Administration took such action. Outside of Congress, both the business community and religious groups voiced support for extending the program and several of the members of those communities spoke out against the Administration’s decision yesterday. Additionally, within hours after the Attorney General’s announcement, a group of Senators led by Republican Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, proposed a bill that is essentially a resurrection of the DREAM Act that would make DACA permanent and there’s been some suggestion about a deal that would allow some initial funding for Trump’s border wall in exchange for passage of legislation that would make DACA permanent. Whether the Graham-Durbin legislation or something like it could pass both Houses of Congress, though, is a different question. Even with all of the outrage that has come in the wake of the announcement yesterday, it’s likely that passage of any such bill would require Republican leaders in both the House and Senate to live with the idea that they’d have to rely on Democrats to push the bill over the top and buck the headwinds coming from their own caucuses and from outside groups that would oppose the bill despite overwhelming public support. With everything else that’s on the Congressional calendar this month, for example, it seems doubtful that they’d be able to get this accomplished this month. Perhaps, though, polling numbers like this will convince them that they have enough political room to maneuver and do the right thing for once.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. KM says:

    As I said on the other thread, Dreamers are considered the “good ones”, productive (non) citizens who do all the things Americans traditionally think immigrants should do. They get jobs, go to school, serve in the military, speak English, etc. Most act like a native-born American would because that’s essentially what they are – raised from a young age in this nation, they typify America a lot more then they do “where they came from.”

    When the TEA Party’s majority thinks you should allow them to stay, you know Trump’s not gonna win this one. Trump voters generally opposed DACA because they don’t seem to understand it. Posters on nearly every story about this I’ve read keep whining that that they’d not applied for citizenship yet aka do it the “right way”. They completely fail to understand that if that if there weren’t major obstacles involved in doing that, we wouldn’t have DACA in the first place. Even then, they don’t seem to object to the notion of Dreamers becoming citizens but that they haven’t done so yet through the basic channels they are aware of.

    Trump picked an utterly unnecessary fight he can’t win. Congress will do nothing and in 6 months, it will be nut up or shut up for him. He thought he was so clever kicking the can down the road, it never occurred to him somebody would whip the can back in his face.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    The modern Republican Party is deeply dependent on a large core of racists. I would be amazed if McConnell and Ryan ev n let it progress to a vote.

  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I think it’s more likely that pressure from big business will have more effect than this polling.
    Over 400 business leaders—including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, AT&T, and Wells Fargo have stepped up against the racists in the White House and the DOJ.
    Tim Cook, who employs over 450 Dreamers, essentially said the Government would have to come through Apple to get to them.

    It baffles me that a relative handful of racists and bigots are behind this. Sessions stood up to announce this policy and told no less than 4 bald-faced lies to justify it. If you have to lie to support a policy then maybe, just maybe, the policy is seriously flawed?

    People complain about dysfunction in our Government. If Republicans would stop lying to the extent they do, to rationalize their flawed ideology, much of the dysfunction would just go away. Obamacare was a prime example of this. DACA is another. Next up…watch the lies told to justify tax cuts for the rich under the guise of Tax Reform.

  4. Xenos says:

    there isn’t a single demographic group that doesn’t essentially support extending DACA

    This would be relevant if the USA were the democratic republic it claims to be. But it is not, and so the the public’s overwhelming policy preferences can not be realized.

    We have an antiquated constitution and system that has been kept going a long time due to comity, respect between factions, and the occasional reform. Those traditions have been discarded with, so we are left with a dictatorship of a rump party. At a certain point the constitution becomes a barrier to freedom and self-rule – thanks to the GOP we have pretty much passed that point now.

  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    Intel also has stated that they will defend their 39 employees, who are also Dreamers, in court.

  6. James Pearce says:

    Colorado’s Senators are sponsoring the DREAM act. Mike Coffman, my Republican representative in the House, also supports it. I think there’s cause for optimism on this issue, at least if you’re hoping for a decent policy. If you’re looking for a quick and cheap victory for your side…..keep looking.

  7. TM01 says:

    Maybe Trump should just come out and grant US Citizenship to all of the DREAMERS.

    Congress apparently won’t act, so why not just let the Executive do what needs to be done to help all these poor people?

  8. KM says:

    So since Congress won’t act, Trump’s got to make it worse??? What kind of logic is that?

    The system, albeit imperfect and not quite kosher in terms of its birth, worked and has the public’s approval. There’s no need to start problems unless one is *looking* to start problems.

  9. the Q says:

    ……Trump voters generally opposed DACA because they don’t seem to understand it.

    Here’s what they understand.

    I have a son, lets say, in Phoenix and he gets accepted to UCLA. He must pay out of state tuition. And he’s a citizen.

    Cut to a dreamer, brought here 5 years ago illegally. Originally, the state of California, with the quid pro quo of having to pay out of state tuition, allowed the first of the “dreamers’ to attend state colleges and universities. Of course the tea party raised heck. “whats next? in state tuition fees? then no doubt, financial aid? then scholarships?”

    “Of course not” said the liberals. No financial aid. No instate tuition.

    Of course, yes. Now the dreamers in California not only get in state tuition, but now they are eligible for student loans and yes, free scholarships.

    Now is this fair to the kid in Phoenix, whose parents didn’t violate the law? And who’s son IS a citizen?

    Why should U.S. citizens be subsidizing the illegal dreamers college fund? If he/she wants to attend a U.S. college fine. Just don’t let them pay the discounted price.

    I really want to hear how you neolibs can possibly justify to that Phoenix kid why the non citizen dreamer should go ahead of him in line?

    And this coming on the heels of HRC’s grotesque excuses of how she didn’t connect with the middle class. Well, see above.

    Of course, I will be flamed with illogical rants that will skirt the justice issue as most of you elite, out of touch boomers scratch your heads as to how HRC could have possibly lost the 4 blue midwest states.

    Should dreamers be allowed to attend school? Yes of course. Should they get loans and financial aid and preferential tuition treatment? NO. Its only fair.

    So when you contemplate the 74,000 votes in those 4 states that could have gone Dem but didn’t, ask yourself if the Trump Presidency was worth the battle over sanctuary policies.

    Because most of you use that exact same argument when you berate the Stein or Bernie voters for costing HRC the election.

    I am looking forward to some of you justifying why an illegal should pay reduced rate in state tuition over a legal out of state citizen who has to pay triple?

  10. beth says:

    @the Q: What a bitter spiteful attitude. Even if there were no dreamers your out of state kid is never going to pay in-state tuition. Those dreamers attending UCLA are paying in state tuition because they live in state. Their parents and themselves most likely work in state and pay state taxes to support the school, which makes them eligible for state and college financial aid. Note – dreamers are not eligible for federal student aid.

  11. Matt says:

    @beth: The Q continuing to prove how little he actually knows. He can’t even get basic facts about tuition or student aid right. Yet he posts as though he believes he’s an expert in the field with pure 100% correct facts.