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. JP

    If more prople knew that the illegals cost the U.S. taxpayers 113 billion few would want them here.

    July 27, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. BeverlyNC

    This is the exact plan President Obama was trying to get the Republicans to work with him on. If we let the illegals come forward, pay a fine, pay their taxes, learn to speak English, and make employers pay their taxes on them – we will have a fair immigration policy and put billions in tax money into our Treasury.
    It works well for everyone.

    Typical Republicans are against it. They want more illegals because they provide cheap slave labor to their business buddies. And besides who would clean their million dollar homes, clean their pools, cut their grass, and raise their children?? Republicans are total hypocrites. Like John McCain, their answer is to "build a damn fence".

    Is there anything Republicans have a clue about?

    July 27, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Gil

    Wow, what a shocker that Americans have a heart and aren't right wing zombies after all!

    July 27, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. lost in Texas FOREVER

    I don't see why not. The Native Americans didn't send anybody back to Europe when they came over and basically TOOK over. Of course like the GOP loves to say, "that was then, this is NOW!!"

    July 27, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. jim

    Who can honestly believe the results of a poll with little more than a thousand people as the makeup of Hispanic is nearly 30%?.The number of hispanics in this naion total population is less or around 15%.What kind of information is CNN pedaling?

    July 27, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  6. ruty

    What a stupid question!!!!! Hell NO.

    July 27, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  7. Wanda

    Wow, I don't know who answered your poll but I don't know anyone who wants illegals to stay. Everyone I know has lost jobs to illegals and the money we are giving in FREE medical care, FREE food, FREE housing, FREE cash is breaking our economy, Yes this is a major part of it. My children can't find jobs but there sure are plenty of illegals with jobs. My son can't even get money for college because I make to much money but we just survive. I have worked my whole life and I don't get any help, but I sure see the people with Food Stamps in front of me in the store buying junk and steaks, I can't afford steak because I'm paying for theirs. As an American it's sad to say we are treated worse than illegals when we need help. The trickle down of all the children of the children of the illegals is breaking America.

    July 27, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. Nothing is too big to fail

    The Mexican/U.S. dollar exchange rate and the social subsidies in this country are encouraging this illegal activities to take place and our government is aiding and abetting every bit of it.

    We gave Mexico more foreign aid than we spend on securing our borders, something is wrong here, seriously wrong

    July 27, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. Hendrik

    And this kind of poll is what these white racist clowns in my state of Arizona don't want to talk about. Their issue is not with illigal immigration from the south; they fear they will be in the minority and that is what is driving them. They can talk all they want about those terrible illigals; in their minds it is those "Mexicans".

    July 27, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  10. Albo58

    Where was this poll conducted, Los Angelos? As an American taxpayer, I say enforce our immigration laws AS WRITTEN!

    July 27, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. a vet

    Way to screw with the numbers CNN...Don't buy it..who are you polling not the Americans...maybe you are polling the illegals!!!

    July 27, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. lil

    Yes if they follow the law and the rules and conditions set up for them to
    become citizen.
    No one should have to carry paper with them at all times seems like the slaves and freedom papers slaves had to carry to keep from being sent
    back south.

    July 27, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  13. jim

    CNN has decided to jump into the issue of illegal immigration by publishing a poll of a little over a thosand people made up of a mix of sampled people that represent 60% of the group but actually make up at the most 30%of the nation's population.How on earth can you say how Americans feel on this issue with such a distortion?

    July 27, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  14. pat

    Sad as the illegals plight is, whether they will contribute fiancially to our society is questionable. Just go to any western union on a Friday and watch all the money that is being wired out of our country. We know that one of the biggest sources of income for Mexico alone is the exportation of our American dollars. Without savings, they will rely on taxpayers funds for their survival. Sorry, but that's not contributing to our society.

    July 27, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  15. Agnes

    No amnesty, we tried it three previous times and it just resulted in more illegals, more amnesty, more illegals, more amnesty etc. the sickening merry go round resulting in the lessening of services for legal citizens. I live in CA and the $ spent on illegals has drained the bank and our children are facing public schools without full time custodians, limited Library, with Art, Music, and PE little to non-existent.
    What of the cost to health facilities required to provide services to indigent illegals and not just once but repeatedly? An illegal boarder crosser has shown a willingness to shun the laws of this land. What other laws will they be willing to break and on what morals? Is this person a viable contributor to uphold the laws of this land, or is it a case of "do as I say and not as I do?" It is shameful that legal citizens of this country are taking a back seat to the illegals streaming over our boarders. At the very least our children deserve a proper education and our workforce deserves the jobs taken by illegals.

    July 27, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  16. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    People who came here as children with no ability to choose their surroundings who have grown up here should be allowed to stay. The rest should have to go home and go through the system.
    I know that these people are looking for a better life, and for that, I don't blame them, but for breaking the law to do it, I hold them accountable...

    OH, and I'm a "Liberal" Democrat Latin male (legal by birth).

    July 27, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  17. lweaton

    This poll is a joke; it goes against every other poll out there right now.

    July 27, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  18. nini

    Stop the the border first then we can talk.

    July 27, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  19. Brian

    Where did these figures come from?????

    July 27, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  20. gene

    Earlier today (tuesday) there was a spanish lady with an interperter
    making a comment concerning the situation in Arizona. If not mistaken, She plans to move to Los Angelas. If she wants to be an American, why is it she did not BOTHER to learm ENGLISH?

    It is a shame we tax payers have to pay for them to learn english and
    they refuse to speak the language. If we were to move to Mexico would
    they pay to teach us spanish.

    Another situation, the people that are against Arizona's law is trying to
    protect themselves. They do not want them leaving Arizona and
    moving into their states. Self preservation.

    July 27, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  21. Gary

    We are a nation of immigrants!

    July 27, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  22. Hugo

    My vote would be sure, if they are all willing to pay a $25,000 penalty for each member of their family for each year that they were here illegally and for any anchor children that they produced while here illegally. Kind of like a pay back of the social services that they abused on the backs of American citizens.

    By the way, McCain was born in Panama to parents that were American citizens, I don't believe that made him a Panamanian citizen now did it?

    July 27, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. wayne

    they should all be deported ....they broke the law send them back .....stop the free medical, welfare,.....and i am sick of other mexicans saying they want the american dream... what about my american dream they are steeling it

    July 27, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Conserve This .... You Hypocrites

    I want us to lock up all the business owners, executives and managers that hire illegal aliens. A felony conviction with a minimum sentence of 5 years.

    The burden of proving that an employee is truly an American will fall on the executive when they face the court ... the People of the United States vs Mr. Business Manager.

    If we want to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in this country, take away their reason for being here ... it's callled taking root cause corrective action ... eliminate the jobs that draw them to America.

    And to all those so-called, "Enforce the current laws Conservatives", I'm sure you will get behind this.

    Then again, maybe you won't support this "law & order approach" because this time ... instead of locking up someone named Jose Gonzalez ... the perp's name will be Joseph Gontak ... and his skin won't be brown.

    July 27, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    No way! Kick them all out!

    July 27, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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