Majority Support For “Path To Citizenship” For Illegal Immigrants
A new poll indicates that most Americans, including most Republicans, support allowing people in the country illegally to normalize their status and, eventually, become citizens:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans favor giving illegal immigrants in the country an opportunity for legal status with a path to citizenship, according to a poll published Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution. Support for an earned path to citizenship for those immigrants came from 71 percent of Democrats and also a majority, 53 percent, of Republicans, the poll found.
The option that drew the least support in the poll was legal residency for illegal immigrants with no path to citizenship: only 14 percent of Americans favored that approach. A larger minority, about 21 percent, said illegal immigrants should be identified by the authorities and deported.
As Republicans have been searching with fresh intensity in recent weeks for a new approach to the divisive issue of immigration, the poll provides potentially heartening information to lawmakers who have urged the party to support overhaul legislation that would eventually allow illegal immigrants to become citizens.
The poll is notable because of the large size of its sample. The results are based on bilingual landline and cellphone interviews between Jan. 28 and Feb. 24 with 4,465 adults in the continental United States. (The margin of error is plus or minus two percentage points.) The Public Religion Research Institute is a nonpartisan research organization that focuses on religion and politics. The Brookings Institution, which is also nonpartisan, conducts research on public policy issues.
Majorities of all religious groups in the poll supported giving earned citizenship to immigrants in the country illegally, but support was especially strong among Hispanics, with 74 percent of Hispanic Catholics and 71 percent of Hispanic Protestants favoring that proposal.
Support for the citizenship option was also strong among black Protestants, 71 percent, and Jewish Americans, with 67 percent. A majority, 56 percent, of white evangelical Protestants, the most conservative group in the poll, also favored offering citizenship to illegal immigrants after they met certain requirements.
Nearly half of Americans, 45 percent, said the Republican Party had been hurt in recent elections by its positions on immigration, while only 7 percent of Americans thought the party had been helped by its views. In the presidential race last year, the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, supported a strategy of “self-deportation,” which would have made life so difficult in the United States for illegal immigrants that they would feel forced to leave on their own.
From the poll itself:
More than 7-in-10 (71%) Democrats, nearly two-thirds (64%) of independents, and a majority (53%) of Republicans favor an earned path to citizenship. Similar numbers of Democrats (13%), independents (14%), and Republicans (13%) favor a path to legal residency, but not citizenship. Meanwhile, 13% of Democrats, 21% of independents, and 32% of Republicans favor deportation.
One wonders if Congress will pay attention to this.