(CNN) – Americans are split right down the middle when it comes to the question of changing the Constitution to prevent children of immigrants from automatically becoming U.S. citizens.
According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll out Wednesday, 49 percent of Americans are in favor of changing that portion of 14th Amendment while 51 percent oppose doing so.
"That's not a recent development," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "A 1993 poll found the same even split on this issue."
The poll also shows a clear partisan divide on the issue, with 58 percent of Republicans supporting a change while only 39 percent of Democrats do so. Independents are split exactly 50-50.
Several leading GOP senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain, have said they would support holding hearings into the matter as part of the heated debate over immigration.
The Reconstruction-era 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection of law and defines who is a U.S. citizen. Critics of illegal immigration have long accused migrants - particularly those coming from Mexico or Latin American countries - of giving birth to children in the United States in hopes that their babies' citizenship will keep them in the country as well as to avail their children of the more generous benefits of the wealther United States.
The amendment has been cited as the foundation of U.S. civil rights law in cases ranging from Brown v. Board of Education to last week's decision that struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in California. Changing it would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and the approval of three-quarters of state legislatures.
The survey interviewed 1,009 adult Americans between August 6-10 and carries a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.