(CNN) – A CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday showed a majority of Americans feel the focus of the country's immigration policies should be on developing a path to legal residency for undocumented immigrants, a shift from years past, when majorities Americans said the focus should be on deportation and closing the country's borders.
The survey comes the same day Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, was quoted saying he would allow young immigrants offered a two year deferral by President Barack Obama to remain in the country if he becomes president, a clarification of his previous stance.
Tune to CNN for Wednesday's presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, CNN.com and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
The poll indicated 56% of registered voters said the main focus of U.S. policy on undocumented immigrants should be developing a plan that would allow them to become legal residents. Thirty-nine percent said the focus should be on deporting undocumented immigrants and stopping more from coming to the U.S.
That's a change from one year ago, when 55% said the focus should be deportation, and 42% said the focus should be developing a path to legal residency. In 2010, 61% named deportation as more important, while 37% identified a plan for legal residency as a priority.
In June, Obama announced a change to immigration rules that allows people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military to apply for a two-year deferral from deportation. The rule change went into effect in August.
In Tuesday's CNN/ORC poll, 64% of registered voters said the new Obama policy was "about right," compared to 18% who said it goes too far and 15% who said it does not go far enough.
In an interview with the Denver Post published Tuesday, Romney said he would allow those who take advantage of the new rules to remain the country, say they "should expect that the visa would continue to be valid."
"I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," he said. "Before those visas have expired, we will have the full immigration-reform plan that I've proposed."
Previously, Romney had not specified how he would handle the estimated 1.7 million people who could qualify for the new rules.
Romney took a hard line stance on immigration during the Republican primary, but in Tuesday's interview and in his forum with Univision, the candidate has adopted a softer tone.
In December, Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act if he were president, saying instead he would support a path to residency – not citizenship – for those who served in the military, but not other DREAM Act proposals.
At a Republican presidential debate in January, Romney said he favored a system of "self-deportation," a policy that involves making economic conditions so difficult for undocumented workers that they choose to leave the country to find better opportunities. That stance was derided both by Democrats and his Republican rivals.
Lately, however, Romney has adopted a softer tone, advocating for permanent immigration changes rather than the temporary plans he says have been offered by Obama.
"We're not going to round up people around the country and deport them," Romney said at the Univision forum in September. "I said time and time again during our primary campaign, we're not going to round up 12 million people, that includes the kids and their parents, and have everyone deported. Our system isn't to deport people. We need to provide a long-term solution."
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International by telephone September 28-30 among 883 registered voters. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Stop saying "clarifies stance" when in fact he is CHANGING his stance. C'mon CNN!! Stop coddling these people with your soft words.
@Tom Paine – "Oh dear, something that runs counter the the rightie universe"
Maintaining many (not all) right wing positions requires the application of filters to accept even the most ridiculous "facts" and "logic" that support your position while rejecting out of hand most valid facts and arguments. You've heard all the excuses, "statistics lie", "liberal bias", "lamestream media", "elites", and so on. Now it's even the polls since they generall have about 38% democrats and 30% republicans in their samples, completely ignoring the fact that about 43% of the population is registered democrats, making dems actually undersampled. But in the bubble, they're always right!
Flip-flop Romney cannot hide from his record to veto the DREAM Act and his "self-deportation" nonsense.
Pres. Obama has the right plan here supported by the majority of Americans.
People assume that I am a conservative because I am voting for Obama's opponent. I am not. I support:
Closing of GITMO–It's an international embarrassment
Gay rights and Gay marriage–These are our fellow Americans being denied constitutional rights
Universal health care done right
Legalization of marijuana
Complete withdrawal from Afghanistan
More green initiatives and better conservation
A well defined immigration policy but with some flexibility for states with significantly higher impact
No drone program within the US
The only ones of these that Obama and I agree on seems to be the green initiatives and universal health care and he messed those up spectacularly. I'm ready to not reward him with four more years and to give Romney a chance.
In January 2012 Romney said he favored a system of "self-deportation," a policy that involves making economic conditions so difficult for undocumented workers that they choose to leave the country to find better opportunities. That's where his heart is.
He is not changing his stance, he never said he wanted to deport, that was a myth be OBama's Media people, ABC,NBC,CBS, etc to make Romney look bad. CNN happens to be right. Wake up Marcelo.
He keeps changing his mind on everything. I seriously do not know what M.R. stands for and he is not getting my vote.
Hey folks!think Romney is a Big mistake abt to happen!America Beware of such funny Man!Pls com out wt New ideas Mr!Gorsh
"Btw, Latinos, Willard is counting on you to be uninformed and uneducated. A republican Latino is as bad as a black one."
What exactly is "bad" about a Black or Latino republican?
Scott: He is not changing his stance, he never said he wanted to deport, that was a myth be OBama's Media people, ABC,NBC,CBS, etc to make Romney look bad. CNN happens to be right. Wake up Marcelo.
Why don't you righties wake up and realize that you support a candidate who will say and do anything to win the presidency. It is amazing to me that anyone actually believes anything that this guy says. How could you trust a word out of his mouth? He has literally taken every side of every issue. I believe once a person is 65 years old, he should have some kind of idea about what he actually believes. Since Mitt Romney is 65 and still keeps changing his beliefs, what do you suppose that tells you about the guy? WILL SAY ANYTHING TO WIN. How will he govern? Ask the people of Massachusetts whom he pretty much told one thing and then did another.
Quoting Mitt Romney on deporting illegals (01/30/08 at Reagan Library Republican debate)
"My plan is this, which is for those that have come here illegally and are here illegally today, no amnesty. Now, how do people return home? Under the ideal setting, at least in my view, you say to those who have just come in recently, we’re going to send you back home immediately, we’re not going to let you stay here. You just go back home. For those that have been here, let’s say, five years, and have kids in school, you allow kids to complete the school year, you allow people to make their arrangements, and allow them to return back home. Those that have been here a long time, with kids that have responsibilities here and so forth, you let stay enough time to organize their affairs and go home."
Let's see I am for National Health Care now I'm not, I will release 12 years of my taxes and now I won't.I am not for amnesty for illegal latinos,now I am. Mitt Romney you have to be snappy,sharp,accurate to be President.Obama is way ahead of you in smarts.
i am sure alot of the ones who were polled dont live in a area where illegal are not a problem..