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. teach truth

    I meant has

    April 16, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. rs

    You have to hand it to the GOP, they love to be on the wrong side of everything:
    Immigration reform? 84% of Americans back a pathway to citizenship
    Gun Control? 90% of Americans favor full-background checks
    Taxes? 70% favor returning to Clinton-era levels for the above $250,000 a year crowd
    Same-sex marriage? Favorable to 54% of Americans.

    The GOP wants to lose big in 2014. If they make it that far....

    April 16, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Brian

    Those who go through the immigration process need to move to the head of the line. This is another slap in the face to my wife who came here legally and me who went through the ridiculous process to get her here. No Congress is saying, too bad, we're going to dump millions of people into the queue for citizenship and it doesn't matter that you followed the rules all along. Now we're looking god knows how many years to complete this ridiculous maze of paperwork and red tape, assuming we don't just give up and move somewhere else.

    April 16, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Mike

    How do you pay the back taxes, if you can't get a legal job because you don't have a green card? The bill makes no sense the way it is drawn up. Must have a provision for a legal job in order for the bill to work. They would have to have a new class of immigrant to provide those that qualify can obtain legal work.

    April 16, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. Bill

    You break the law and now you can go ahead of the line.Why are we doing this to our laws do laws matter any more?I think not how sad that folks.So if you break the law see if you get the same oh ok it doesn't matter your free to go sir....

    April 16, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Saju

    Its sad that no one talks about LEGAL, DOCUMENTED immigrants. Just like me, Half million of them. My story , Legal from day one, paying taxes , contributing to economy, contributing to charities, post graduate, in USA for 11 years. Filed for green card waiting since 10 years, estimated wait time 15 more years for green card and 20 years for citizenship!!! . this is the story of not just me, there are at least half a million more.

    April 16, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. tv22

    I don't understand why we would allow a path to citizenship under any circumstances. I have no problem with some sort of process to establish legal residency, but the privilege of citizenship should not be conferred on anyone that broke the law. If you want to be a citizen, leave and start over. If you want to be a legal resident, we can put a process in place for that.

    April 16, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Kim

    I wonder where they hold these so called "polls"...Southern California and Texas? I live in Oregon and I know there wouldn't be more than 25% voting for amnesty here. I've read a lot of articles on illegal immigration and 90% or more are completely against it, so gotta wonder who these 85% of American Citizens are or if they even exist. If you live in a community that has been negatively impacted by illegal immigration like mine has, there's no way you'd ever vote for a pathway to citizenship for even one illegal and you'd vote to immediately repeal birthright citizenship if you could.

    April 16, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. tarura

    Path to citizenship my foot.

    DEPORTATION – if it takes years, that's ok. Nobody should be rewarded for breaking the law.

    April 16, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. thomas1175

    I used to believe in polls. I no longer do because of the way the news uses them to manipulate towards their own agenda.

    April 16, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. Guest

    Follow our nations immigration law, simple. No special privileges for law breakers even if they are being recruited by democrats!

    April 16, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Lila

    Not true, who were the 1000 people polled? I have never seen so many dishonest polls on any other topic like I do on illegal immigration.

    April 16, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Matt all the immigrants who have degrees, can speak english, hardworking, pay tax, help the economy, AND have come into the US legally, have now been pushed back in the line to let in illegal immigrants have a green card. A legal process takes up to 15 years at the current status. While an illegal ailen gets a green card in 10 years 😦

    April 16, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. j.

    Yet another ridiculous bill. Are those who have stolen identities to live in this country also going to receive documentation? I've had my identity stolen and I don't back ANY bill that gives illegal immigrants who have stolen identities a free pass to citizenship.

    April 16, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. NMEast

    I would like to know the numbers actually spoken to in these polls. If all you do is talk to 5,000 people, how can you actually believe that those 5,000 out of the 310 MILLION people who live in the US, are the "voice" of the people of the U.S?
    I don't know anyone who wants illegal aliens to receive citizenship at any time. We all understand that we can't physically deport these people, but we do agree that by enforcing the laws already on the books that makes it illegal to hire an "undocumented worker", it will result in a large number of these people leaving. Why hasn't there been a poll on that? Or on increasing the number of workers processing LEGAL applications so that it doesn't take 10 or 15 years for a legal immigrant to get permission to enter? No word on that; the only thing you hear is all those that have already broken the law complaining they don't like our laws; our laws aren't fair; yada yada yada.

    April 16, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. Mudbone

    Right on Levi. I get ticked off every time I have to select English on an automated telephone menu. Having the ability to walk across our border illegally should not give them the right to citizenship. The politicians better not give away my social security and Medicare benefits to illegal’s that have not earned it.

    April 16, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Liz

    My grandmother came here in here in her early 20's. She learned to speak English, but never learned to read or write it. My daughter-in-law's parents came over in their 30's. Her father can speak broken English and owns a store, mangaing to communicate with his customers – in English. Her mother never learned English. Not because she didn't want to, it is just not easy to learn a new language as an adult. They were all legal immigrants.

    April 16, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. LukeVentura

    Six of the 9/11 hijackers were illegal aliens (with overstayed visa)
    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 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. Kay

    A path to legal residency? Yes. A path to citizenship? No. Not unless they leave and get in the back of the line. I think residency is fine, but don't give them the reward of voting or calling themselves an American until they come here the legal way.

    April 16, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. Name lynn

    What is going on here why cant the gop leaders leave the immigrations alone, let them come to america an live theirs in peace. Let the immigrations work an pay taxes like the people.

    April 16, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  21. Lynn

    Pay back taxes? Sure, as long as there is also a provision that the corporations who have weaseled out of paying their fair share for years must also pay back taxes.

    April 16, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. steve

    if the libs want all these things, let them pay for it.

    keep the rest of us out of it

    April 16, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. scarf

    Why offer citizenship to illegals? They didn't come here wanting it. They came for economic opportunity, not citizenship. Let them jump through hoops to get green cards, deport the rest, and deny citizenship to all of them. Only those who followed all the rules should be offered citizenship.

    April 16, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Fair is Fair

    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.
    Oh then by ALL means, let's import another 11 million "undocumenteds".... our economy should REALLY take off then.

    April 16, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Michael A. (Wake Forest, NC)

    First, let's see exactly what's in the "Bill" (the devil is in the details). Then make your proposal from there, but get real you want to try and deport 12 million people? However, in my humble opinion from what I've heard so far that they are proposing I can't find to much of anything to disagree with.

    April 16, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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