CNN Poll: Most see pathway to citizenship
April 16th, 2013
10:24 AM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Most see pathway to citizenship

(CNN) - As Congress tries to reach consensus on how to deal with border security and immigration reform, a new national poll indicates that more than eight in 10 Americans support an eventual pathway to citizenship for some undocumented workers.

According to a CNN/ORC International survey, 84% of the public backs a program that would allow undocumented workers to stay in the United States and apply for citizenship if they have been in the country for several years, have a job, and pay back taxes.

The poll's Tuesday release comes on the same day that comprehensive immigration reform legislation put together by a bipartisan group of senators known as the "Gang of Eight" was to be formally proposed at a news conference.

The event was postponed with the nation still gripped by events surrounding Monday’s deadly Boston Marathon bombing, Richard Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said.

The bill, which is expected to be formally filed in the Senate late Tuesday night, calls for a 13-year path to citizenship for those who entered the United States prior to 2012.

It would take 10 years for such undocumented workers to get a green card, and then another three years to gain citizenship. Along the way, undocumented workers would have to pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check.

The legislation also mandates that there be no path to legality until it is determined that the U.S. border with Mexico is secure.

"Politically speaking, Democrats are more likely to support the proposal than Republicans, but even among GOPers, support is at 78%," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Demographically, the biggest difference is a gender gap, with support among men 9 points lower than among women. Nonetheless, support among men is a robust 79%."

The overall high level of support is not new - in a 2007 CNN survey, 80% felt that same way.

But the 84% figure is higher than two other national polls released in recent weeks. Nearly six in 10 Americans in surveys from Quinnipiac University and ABC News/Washington Post said they supported an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.

The other recent polls did not describe the circumstances under which immigrants would be allowed to stay - such as having a job and paying back taxes - which would likely dilute support for the proposals that are most likely to come before Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee could take up the “Gang of Eight” proposal as early as the end of this week.

President Barack Obama is encouraging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. He met Tuesday afternoon with Senators John McCain and Chuck Schumer, two of the "Gang of Eight" members. Some conservatives oppose eventually allowing undocumented workers to achieve citizenship, considering the move amnesty.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser and CNN Congressional producer Alan Silverleib contributed to this report

soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    These poll numbers are astounding and should be a wake up call for Congress to get their heads of their butts and listen to what WE, THE PEOPLE are demanding.

    April 16, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. much thunder..little rain

    those who join the military need to be move to the head of the line....criminals need to be deported...

    April 16, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  3. Borderless

    Yes, there should be a path for citizenship. Yes, we benefit from the positive influence of cultural diversity. But no, citizens of other countries do not have a RIGHT to become citizens of ours. Every country has a right to protect their borders and determine who they allow to become full citizens.

    April 16, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    The reality is.........they want it with NO STRINGS, which simply is NOT going to happen.

    April 16, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. Fair is Fair

    "It would take 10 years for such undocumented workers to get a green card, and then another three years to gain citizenship. Along the way, undocumented workers would have to pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check."
    Has anyone done a study as to the percentage of the 12 Million "undocumented workers" that would fall into the class that would lead to eventual citizenship? And what do you do with the ones who don't? Do they continue to be simply "undocumented", with no repercussions whatsoever? What would motivate the majority of the "undocumented" to go through a 13-year process that would hit them hard financially, when they can do absoluteny nothing and not be penalized? This whole thing is ludicrous.

    April 16, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. Peoples State of Illinois

    Round them up and send them back, or use some of DHS's 1.6 billion bullets to shoot them. Take your pick.

    April 16, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. LukeVentura

    The Mexican border becoming a back door for terrorists entering the United States.
    Illegal immigration and crime are linked .
    If you against any kind of Amnesty, go to this website and register.
    Google this: NUMBERSUSA .
    Once you are registered, go to the "action board"

    April 16, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. James PDX

    Can we at least put the crimes they will not be punished for on their criminal records so they will be considered if they break more laws in the future? I'm not sure I've ever heard of legislation that seeks to reward people who break the law. I'm not saying I'm against it, just that it really makes no sense and seems to be people just resigning themselves to the fact that it is inevitable.

    April 16, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. Justin

    I am going to ask my friends and family who want to immigrate to US and don't have to stand in line to come now from Mexico border or any border and get a job, They will become Residents/Citizens ahead of all the other people in line ... Great News Politics at its best

    April 16, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Jim Campo

    We are one of the few countries, that gives citizenship just because your born here. We need to do away with that.

    April 16, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. theINDEPENDENTone

    Deport ALL the Illegal Immigrants. Then give a path to citizenship to legal applications.

    April 16, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. Levi

    Why don't we make one of the requirements that they learn how to read, write and speak English? If they want to live in this country, they should learn the language of this country. I shouldn't be forced to learn their language if they want to live here. They should be forced to learn mine. That's just common sense. They can obviously still speak their original language and teach it to their children, but they should be able to communicate with everyone else and not expect everyone else to accommodate them.

    April 16, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. Organic1

    I missed something, I assume you have made the effort to help another acquire the green card, or citizenship in the past. If you are just sitting and spouting from the safety of your little space about something you have no vested interest in, find another hobby. These immigrants do not want instant citizenship, but they do want something that does not take their lifetime to achieve. There is no difference for them to want a better life or better surroundings for their families than any of us that are citizens. Get real.

    April 16, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. JJ

    Amnesty for the criminal illegal invaders? How about absolute enforcement of the immigration laws. Just because a person snuck into the USA does not give them any immunity from immigration laws.

    April 16, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. The REAL Truth...

    @Fair is Fair – This whole thing is ludicrous.
    Agreed. And what's even more ludicrous is basing the whole bill around making our southern borders 90% secure. How is that to be measured? How is that going to happen when the red-state Gubner's of TX and AZ are diverting existing Federal Border Aid to other uses?

    April 16, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. g.r.r.

    Hopefully, the house will deny this to those that CHOOSE to come here, or at the least, those that are not raising families here.

    April 16, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. Luke

    These polls are lies. There is no way 84% of Americans agree with this abomination. Maybe unions want more potential members, corporations want cheaper workers and Democrats want more voters, but what is in it for the average citizen? Do Americans really want millions of people with low levels of skill and education to become citizens? And make no mistake, the numbers are greater than what has been publicized. What happens when these people petition for their relatives to also enter the country. You are looking at a great transformation of our society and culture. Any congressman voting for this is a traitor.

    April 16, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  18. Non-believer

    So they asked 1012 people what they thought and decided that 84% of Americans back amnesty? I don't buy it!
    The only "poll" that matters is what people write to their representatives.

    April 16, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. ME

    And pay back taxes? Including interest and penalties I hope...just like what a U.S. citizen would have to pay.

    April 16, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. RealGlaird

    These poll numbers are most likely manufactured, and those commenting about congress getting their heads out of there butts, ought to look in the mirror.

    April 16, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. ghostriter

    This isn't suprising at all.

    April 16, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. The REAL Truth...

    @theINDEPENDENTone – Deport ALL the Illegal Immigrants. Then give a path to citizenship to legal applications.
    Get real pls.. those same 11 million are doing low-wage/cheap labor jobs that pay better than they do back home, but most Americans refuse to do. Construction, farm labor, etc. If you deport them, the economy will tank and consumer prices will rise.

    April 16, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  23. Zerubbabel

    A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that the American public believmes that the GOP is out of touch with the public's views by a 70 to 23 percent margin. The same poll shows that democrats fair better with a 51 to 46 margin for out of touch/in touch. The POTUS has a 51 to 46 margin of in touch/out of touch. The GOP's options are to get on board or become irrelevant.

    April 16, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  24. Sam

    Why would these criminals be given a pass, they broke our laws knowingly and the gov wants to pat them on the back and say welcome in. Deport them and let them try to enter again the legal way. End of story.

    April 16, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. teach truth

    This is a country of immigrants, and it always have been

    April 16, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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