Washington (CNN) - The vast majority of Americans say they favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. if they have a job and pay their taxes, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that a majority of the public says such a plan takes a back seat to stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.
Eighty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say they support creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. for a number of years to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country permanently if they had a job and paid back taxes, with 19 percent opposed to such a plan.
According to the poll 78 percent of white respondents favor the program, 16 points lower than the 94 percent of Hispanics questioned who back a plan that would provide a pathway to legal status for some illegal immigrants.
But the survey indicates that 57 percent of Americans say the main focus of the federal government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration should be developing a plan that would stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country and deporting those already in the U.S. That's 15 points higher than the 42 percent who say developing a plan that would allow illegal immigrants who have jobs to become U.S. residents should be Washington's top priority.
The survey's Tuesday release came two days before parts of an Arizona immigration law took effect Thursday, after a federal judge blocked several of its most controversial aspects. The preliminary injunction, issued Wednesday, means that, at least for now, police are prevented from questioning people's immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in the country illegally.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted July 16-21, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone, including a special sample of 308 black and 303 Hispanic respondents. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
EDITOR'S NOTE: When this story originally appeared on Tuesday, the number of white and Hispanic respondents who back a plan that would provide a pathway to legal status for some illegal immigrants was mistakenly transposed. The above wire is correct.