July 29th, 2010
04:46 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Should illegal immigrants be allowed to stay?

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.

Full results (pdf)

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.


Filed under: CNN Polls • Immigration • issues • Polls
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Wow CNN is gung-ho about the illegal immigration lightning rod. Sorry I didn't get the memo that all of a sudden after Obama became President that this is such a big issue.

    Who knew that for decades we have been paying trillions for national border security and law enforcement resources.

    July 27, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. Simon/Orlando

    That decision can't be made until the borders are closed. If they publicly annouced a program like that, the next day illegals would be crossing the border like a bunch of locusts so they could stay in the U.S. Seal the border!

    July 27, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. ib

    only if they pay taxes and are working. We need to close our borders first. the illegals that are here and not working or have a police record should be deported.

    July 27, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. GO AFTER THOSE WHO EMPLOY THEM

    I guess if they have been here for at least 5 years and have worked steadily then perhaps applying for citizenship or work visa should be allowed. With regards to Taxes we all know that they use false SS # and their employers do withhold all taxes so the GOVT is getting some taxes paid. They do not file their Income tax no of course not but like I said using a false or someone else SS# taxes are being witheld from their paycheck. Those companies that employ them should also pay fines big time.

    July 27, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. Allen in Hartwell GA

    I'd like to know the wording of your question if you got 81 percent of the people to agree that they supported creating a program for illegal aliens to stay in the US. Maybe it went something like "Do you support creating a program for the the illegals working for you to stay or get shipped back home?"

    July 27, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  6. mj

    If they can maintain a job, pay taxes, learn to speak English, pass the test for Citizenship, have a clean law record – Okay. If not, Bye-Bye.

    July 27, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. cel

    Is everybody missing the ILLEGAL part of this whole issue ? Send them back or lock them up, they are criminals. That's what illegal means.

    July 27, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. Raymond Reiss

    If illegals are here they need to leave and then come back legally. In the meantime we need to reduce the federal government by eliminating the benefits that illegals receive for EVERYONE, then we need to shift power back to the States and encourage small business to hire unemployed (government workers). This would reduced the deficit which is the main problem we have. We need to bring troops home and place them on the border. Illegals are the source of many of our problems. Then need also need to cut big business – any business too big for US to let fail needs to be busted up and shifted back to Main Street. Punitive taxes for white collar crime – seize their entire net worth like we do Drug King Pins and pay down this debt of Obama's. We need to go in the opposite direction ASAP.

    July 27, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. Paul

    "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these."" Mark 12: 30-31

    If we do not welcome today's pilgrim's to our great nation, and if we still dare to call ourselves Christians, then we will be just a group of hypocrites. We need to be humane, Congress must stop playing politics and they should allow people who are already here stay while giving them an opportunity for a life with dignity as the natives gave to our first pilgrims. Let us not forget how our nation started...

    "Life is worthless unless it is lived for others" Theresa of Calcutta

    July 27, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. JES

    Hell no let them come in the front door like all the people did before them.

    They cost of billions and billions of tax payers dollars every year.

    Send them home yesterday.

    If our government would do their job we wouldn't have this problem.

    July 27, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  11. Pkm

    No matter how hard mr obama tries to help the shanish the dam gop will not help any one who does not have money there hate ful

    July 27, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  12. Terri, Independent Texas

    I would have to say "no". Then what next, break another law and be forgiven with no consequences. Was it not clear that there were laws when these individuals "chose" to enter this country "illegally". IT'S A CRIME! Why not do the right thing and become a LEGAL RESIDENT. Is that too much toask.

    With that, I'm not sure the way Arizona is about to handle the problem would be the right solution. Something has to be done though.

    July 27, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. shame

    Immigration laws like the one in Arizona are a disaster in the making, a political ploy and a racial profiling. the lawmakers in Arizona have to understand that sending illegal immigrants go back home will not solve the problem. The solution is to come up with a national immigration law to solve the problem we have at hand and at the same time come up with a law to stop illegal immigration. Tell the political leaders in Arizona that thay will never stop illegal immigration but we can work in minimizing the flow. So the solution is to come up with a blanket granting legal status to millions of immigrants that was passed by Congress in the early 80's or late 80,s. Let's pass a bipartisan immigration reform law not law's passed by states which give no regards to the Federal government. God Bless our country.

    July 27, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  14. JonDie

    What about the children of illegal aliens, who are brought to this country by their parents as small children, who grow up in this country, and who have no real connection to their actual country of citizenship? Deport the parents if you want, but, at least, the best achievers of their children should be allowed to stay and work toward residency?

    July 27, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. Mark from Louisiana

    No they can't stay. They knew when they snuck across the border they were illegal and they still are illegal. Letting them stay would be a slap in the face to all those who have waited their turn to be US citizens.
    They must go home, and get at the end of the line to re-enter our country legally.
    Once the jobs are cut off, it won't cost us a penny to send them back, they will deport themselves.

    July 27, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. La Piovra

    Not all undocumented immigrants are illegal, and not all undocumented persons are immigrants. People may lack "documents" for all sorts of reasons: fire, disaster, accidental loss, or just walking the dog while looking brown. Of those who prove to be undocumented immigrants in fact, some may have fled their former jurisdictions from fear for their lives, and some may have been brought to this country when too young to have any say about it. Considering how many Americans have contributed to this situation by buying drugs, selling arms, or supporting tyrranical regimes that are supposed to be good for business, I suggest we should not be too quick to judge. And no, "Hispanic" and "la raza" do not refer to what we would call a "race". A strawberry blond Gallego, a coal-black guajiro of Yoruban descent, an indio, a mestizo, or even an ethnic Chinese can be included, so long as they share a linguistic and cultural heritage that derives from Spain. I hope this information disconfuses some people.

    July 27, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  17. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    My parents applied for entry into the United States in March, 1952; it was granted in September, 1953 and they arrived in Chicago in October, 1953. For the next 7 years they went to the Federal Building in downtown Chicago to register, got the study materials for citizenship, took the exam, passed and were sworn in in December, 1960. Oh, and yes, they brought skills with them to this country which was a bit of a requirement in those days from what I'm told.

    So why should it be different for anybody today to have it made any easier simply because they chose not to follow the rules?

    Or, maybe the ruling class in Mexico should get a lesson in how to share with everybody within their borders in order to create a more even society thereby stemming the tide of illegals up here?

    Well, Muchachos, ¿Que se dice?

    July 27, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  18. Kimberly Hernandez

    I think that illegal immigrants should come here to the us, some have familys here and I think they shouldn't be taking back if they do. They are humans too. The president aint white hisself. What is he thinking?

    July 27, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  19. Oy Vey Az

    I grew up in the American Southwest. I am a white woman with a great desert tan.

    Our second language is Spanish.

    I'd rather have the immigrants from south of our boarder than the carpetbagger-right-wing-tender footed up-tight white immigrants poring into our state from around the US.

    I never hear any fuss about the illegal immigrants from Canada ... do you?

    July 27, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  20. all of America

    If illegals are given amnesty , just as when you were born in the U.S. you have to wait 18 years from date of birth to vote , they can only vote when they have been a legal citizen 18 years from the time they were given amnesty ! They can never use any government services such as , unemployment, they can never draw social security,they can never use any funding from the U.S. government or city , state, county government. They want to be legal citizens , they have to play by the rules!

    July 27, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  21. Cynthia - Arkansas

    If they deported every alien living in my town, it would immediately become a ghost town. Every bank and business would fail. They have too many notes at the banks on houses and cars. It would be a disaster. I'm not happy with the situation, but it is what it is. Bush opened the flood gate so his buddies would have cheap labor. Now we have them. Period.

    July 27, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  22. P Revere

    Instead of hand picking the people you are going to ask this question, a real poll would be random. But then the results would be very different and you wouldn't have anything to write about. What a joke.

    July 27, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  23. Kevin Collins

    You idiots! Don't you see what would happen - all these tightwad, greedy businesses would dump all their non-minimum-wage workers and replace them with the newly-legal illegal ones and pay them minimum wage. And just think about all the non-parents-of-a-U.S.-born-child that would qualify for food stamps and the like. And let's not forget the central thing: We'd be rewarding criminals with citizenship.

    July 27, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. W.B

    Yes...if they have not broken any laws. Mexico is a war zone because of weak govnerment regulations and headed to a third world status. The Republican want less regulation also.

    July 27, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  25. Big Wheeler

    I have no problem with illegals coming to U.S. To work. How ever they should not be consider citzens nor should they or their offsprings recieve govmt. assistance. And they should be here only temporarily.

    July 27, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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