April 12th, 2010
12:02 PM ET
5 years ago

Should path for citizenship be made easier for illegal immigrants?

ALT TEXT

 (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/File)


Washington (CNN) - Two-thirds of Americans don't want to make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, even though a slight majority is sympathetic towards their plight, according to a new poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday indicates that 66 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, with 33 percent disagreeing.

Forty-two percent of Democrats questioned say the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants should be made easier. That number drops to 33 percent for independents and 16 percent for Republican respondents.

"Virtually all major subgroups oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, at least in the abstract," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Specific legislation that puts limits on the ability to gain citizenship has sometimes met with favor in the past if it restricts the number who can apply and penalizes them for staying in the country illegally. But the overall principle remains unpopular."


According to the poll, 52 percent are sympathetic to illegal immigrants and their families, down five points from 2006, with 47 percent unsympathetic, up eight points from four years ago.
"There are minor demographic differences on the sympathy question," says Holland. "For example, women appear slightly more sympathetic than men. But the biggest difference is the partisan breakdown. Two-thirds of Democrats say they sympathize with illegal immigrants, compared to roughly half of Independents and only one in four Republicans."

On Saturday, thousands of people attended rallies in several cities across the country to urge Congress to act quickly on immigration reform. Tens of thousands of people turned out last month for an immigration rally held at the National Mall in Washington. In a video message to that crowd, President Obama vowed he would do "everything in my power" to get a bipartisan deal to overhaul U.S. immigration laws.

Then-President George W. Bush supported a bipartisan effort to overhaul U.S. immigration laws four years ago, proposing to set up a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million people currently in the United States without authorization.

But those measures were criticized as establishing "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, and legislation Bush supported died with a Senate filibuster – one led by members of his own party but joined by more than a dozen Democrats.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted March 19-21, with 1,030 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: CNN poll • Immigration • Popular Posts
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Ron

    The path to citizenship should not be made easier, in fact, we should require that children born here be required to have at least one parent who is already a citizen in order for the infant to be considered a citizen. In the early years of our nation, we needed people, that is no longer the case and I wonder if those who would like to simply throw open our doors to everyone have ever considered what the population of the U.S. is going to look like in another century. What are we shooting for, one billion ? Three ? Do we want to have people practically stepping on each other like Japan or India ?

    April 12, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. James

    We need to do something about the law. It is obviously not working. The illegal migration problem is just getting worse and worse in this country. I don't see how can we deport the 10 million people who are already in this country, so it is better to legalize them so they can start paying taxes (if they don't already) and assimilate them into our society. I have few friends that came from Europe on H1B visas and their wives got H4, on which they can not work. Do you people really believe that a young person will stay at home for 6 years and not do anything. This is just a stupid visa requirements that basically forces people into the illegal activities. Also, people overstay their visas because there is no other way for them to keep legal status in this country. This must be somehow fixed. I have a friend whose wives does not have papers and he is a US born citizen. I thing that there must be a law (maybe something like Clinton did with 245i) that would allow those people to stay together . If we have a US citizen or permanent resident they should be able to keep their love once here with them. Our ancestors were immigrants too and I feel sick to my stomach when I hear people being so hateful towards immigrants. We all are immigrants in this country.

    April 12, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Illusions

    No. Do not make it easier.

    At this point with America having more debt and running a deficit anyone that is allowed to come to this country should have to be deemed a net positive to the country, not be someone that will be "less than the average" citizen.

    I know it's harsh but we should only let in those people that bring a net positive to the country.

    April 12, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Mark from Louisiana

    No more anchor babies, change that law. Arrest and deport the illegals, if they want to become American citizens get in line with the rest of the world.
    Stop giving the illegals food stamps, hud housing, welfare checks and free medical care and they will deport themselves.

    April 12, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. Mini Carlsson

    I think if they have been paying taxes with their own SS# yes!!

    April 12, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. ToughLove

    I'm all for people finding a better life here in the U.S. but our laws should be upheld! If the laws pertaining to immigration are wrong, then they should be changed. Until then, they should be enforced and our citizens should support that enforcement.

    April 12, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. rita

    How sympathetic are they to other types of law breakers. What do they not understand about ILLEGAL? Maybe we should focus on giving away civil rights to legal U.S. gay citizens who want to get married and U.S. legal gay citizens who are fighting on the front lines of our wars before we put a years worth of focus on the citizens of Mexico who broke laws to move into our dwindling job market. The pro-illegal immigration lobby has a lot of gumption to step over pressing civil rights of legal American gay groups who have been fighting for generations in order to justify their illegal constituents. I wonder how many of these respondents were from states that do not touch Mexico? I'm sure the results would be a lot different if they only questioned Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. They do not understand – Go to the end of the line. They will gladly step over gay groups because their ability to breed like rabbits put them at a higher platform in the eyes of heterosexual politicians.

    April 12, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Mark Cross Junction VA

    How can we make it any easier. THEY HAVE OBAMA ON THEIR SIDE.

    April 12, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Ed Tallahassee

    How are you going to get 11 Million people out of America?

    Amnesty might not be a bad idea. Get them paying taxes, and get them paying Social Security. There is already a huge Population Gap between the Boomers and Gen X that we can only fill with Imigration. The sooner we realize that the better.

    April 12, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. No Way

    Only if their country will help pay their way. They need to stay and fight to make their country better and stop running. The US can only hold so many people. It's time to cut off immigrants period.....

    April 12, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. Tell It Like It Is

    Which means those bananas in congress will once again go against the public and make it easier. Does Health Care ring a bell?

    April 12, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. I Love America

    Since the majority oppose guess they'll ram this one down our throats, too.

    April 12, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. kevin

    No, No, No, & I say it again No. Will these country make it easier for american to migrate to their country. What makes these people think that the deserve to be citizen of this country. Most if not all Immgrant that come to this country elected official in that I mean ( they voted for the people that run their country) then if your elected official are not doing right by your country vote them out and vote someone in who really care about his people and his country. Stop running to America destroying this country. I am not an immigrant not was my ancestors, we came from this country and were not slaves. America has way to much Illegal immgrant in this country we can not even deal with what we have now. We have to asimulate these people into our society and that has not happen. We lost so much in this country, what we need is to stop Immigration for aleast five years or until our economy is stable.

    April 12, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. worriedmom

    No it should not be made easier. why does our Govt not understand about the word "Illegal". If you really want to be a citizen of the US then my suggestion is that they must enroll in the U.S. Military and serve for a minimum of 4 years, they must pass test to speak English as the main language. Then they must be given a test on citizenship. For those that do not want to comply then buses will line up to take them back to their homelands or planes if homeland is across ocean. Think of all the money that businesses, schools and local govts will save that they do not have to advertise everything in Spanish.
    I feel the Obama administration is going to try to give amensty for the vote since they are losing a majority of independents with their policies.

    April 12, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. David E

    Ummm........NO!

    April 12, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. Captian Canada

    So when the hot air from the extremes pass what are the real choices to this issue? It is unlikely that these illegals will just get up & leave if asked. A forced removal will be violent beyond belief. So what is left. These people do cost some jobs & do tax some services. They also contribute by spending the money they earn. So when will we hear what the numbers really are. Not the ones spewed by either extreme but the real numbers. In the end maybe fast tracking citizenship will be the only choice left. THe war on drugs was & is a dismal failure & it seems the war on illegals is fairing no better. Maybe it is time to legalize both.

    April 12, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  17. kevin

    No, No, No, & I say it again No. Will these country make it easier for American to migrate to their country. What makes these people think that the deserve to be citizen of this country. Most if not all Immgrant that come to this country have elected official that run their country in that I mean ( they voted for the people that run their country) then if your elected official are not doing right by your country vote them out and vote someone in who really care about his people and his country. Stop running to America destroying this country. I am not an immigrant not was my ancestors, me and myu ancestors are from this country and were not slaves. America has way to much Illegal immgrant in this country we can not even deal with what we have now. We have to asimulate these people into our society and that has not happen. We lost so much in this country, what we need is to stop Immigration for aleast five years or until our economy is stable.

    April 12, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Steve in Ct

    ILLEGAL......... These people started their relationship with the US by breaking the law. And now they want to reward that conduct with expediated citizenship? Send them back and have them try to become American Citizens legally. What message are we sending the world?

    April 12, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Smith360

    There must be some way to make the millions of illegal Hispanic immigrants American citizens and members of the Democratic party. I hope the current Democratic led Congress, Senate and Administration of President Obama is able to pass a comprehensive Immigration plan to deal with this long lasting problem.

    The Republican lawmakers solution of simply rounding these millions of illegal immigrants up and tossing them into jail places a great debt on American taxpayers that are struggling to keep their city's and community out of bankruptcy.

    April 12, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. James Rigney

    We do not need to make the path to citizenship any easier for any group. All follow the same path if they desire citizenship once they have achieved LEGAL RESIDENCY. Residency is the opening, the path to citizenship is there and has been for a long time. Lets find a just and equitable way to facilitate the path to Legal Residency and then when they are ready begin the path to citizenship.

    Three essential elements of the path to legal residency:
    1. NO history of legal crimes or conduct in the past.
    2. fully cooperated and filed Income Tax forms yearly under the special category the IRS provides for those without SSN
    3. Within 5 (6 or 7) demonstrate functional conversational ability in English, failure to do so will result in denial of permanent residency.

    Just a start and it is fair.

    April 12, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Jim Plunkett

    No the path should not be made any easier than it already is. They have broken our laws and should be deported and required to do it right and this should apply to all those anchor babies born of illegal mothers. We need to stop being sympathetic and do right by our laws.

    April 12, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. taxedmore

    When the 10 million illegal aliens become legal and bring their wives and 2-4 kids here they will legally be able to apply for food stamps, WIC, free school lunches, medicaid, subsidized housing, free cell phones, TANF (for spending money), free education, etc. etc... They may even qualify for SSI payments. They will not have to pay income taxes because they will qualify for EIC and child tax credits. In fact they will get more back than they pay in so their social security payments are refunded too but they will still be able to collect SS when they retire or become disabled. And it will all be legal and can last as long as China is willing to pay for it. After that we are all poor.

    April 12, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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