CNN Poll: Most see pathway to citizenship
April 16th, 2013
10:24 AM ET
1 year 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. Rex

    We already have laws that provide a pathway to citizenship. Do you really, really think that the majority of the current illegal aliens (yes, I said illegal) are going to pay back taxes and wait for 10 years in line? Give me a break. I will support the new "path" if the liberals will agree to ship out the ones who don't want to follow the new path. Little chance of that.

    April 16, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Ritchie Griffith

    What blows my mind is how ignorant American citizens are. When they add "the illegals will pay back taxes" everyone says Yes Yes give them amnesty so the government will have more money to give to me. They will pay no back taxes because they don't earn enough money and if they did there probably aren't any records to show how much they made.

    April 16, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. smitvict

    Obama promises immigration reform and Marco Rubio leads the way. Leads being the key word.

    April 16, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. Dan G

    One more CNN designed poll, need I say more.

    April 16, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. PHK3

    Once again Congress has done nothing but put a temporary band aid on a problem we will have to address again in a generation. Unless you change the 14th Amendment. As long as someone is physically born here they are a citizen immediately. This creates a situation where babies are born here from people who are rightfully citizens of another country, and we do not want to take a child from its family (anchor babies), the anchor just gets heavier as the parents have more children. Any child born in the United States should be given the highest residency of their parents. In this day of modern travel it is easier to fly to the US have a baby (just for the US citizenship) then leave. Our problem is far more sinister than just the low wage workers fleeing Mexico, Central & South America. A simple change to the 14th amendment would stem the tide.

    April 16, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. J'cincinnati'Redd

    We are all americans! Didnt mean to offend anyone.

    April 16, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. CNN - Bad "Reporting"

    I am really starting to pay attention to "political reporting" – and CNN is the worst offender of this. Headlines such as "Most people ........" are only directed at making people 'sheep'. Non-critical thinkers (and this is obviously most Americans, including CNN those on this website) read this and say to themselves "if most people think this way, then I am wrong to think otherwise or question this, I must be wrong". Get a Spine CNN, and report the facts and leave the politicing to politicians.......

    April 16, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. Joe

    The only ones that want this AMNESTY are the LAW BREAKING FOREIGNERS and their TRAITOR BLEEDING HEART HELPERS!

    April 16, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. IC DUDE

    Learning English should be first on the list of requirements.

    April 16, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Coffeymate

    I was never polled, nor have I seen a poll. I would select "no path" because they committed a felonious offense by entering the country illegally.

    April 16, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. Jerry

    CNN must have found the 1012 people in california and lower Texas for this poll...

    April 16, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Dee Leo 210

    Go into any African American community and ask them if they support “amnesty” for the “undocumented-Democrats” that ILLEGALLY entered this country? The answer is NO! It’s a con job and a scam they’re proposing here. The undocumented-Democrats will never, ever, pay back taxes, and if they do; Democrats will come up with some form of legislation to allocate funds to pay the fines. Never mind that they’re now going to add these undocumented-Democrats to the rolls of Social Security and Welfare, and these programs cannot even take care of native born American citizens. These undocumented-Democrats are going to jump the line in front of people that have been waiting for years to enter the United States the right way. Legally!

    April 16, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. Jerry

    I agree with changing the 14th amendment to exclude all siblings born here if their parents are here illegally...

    April 16, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Scott

    I've known several people who have lived abroad. They had to have valid papers/passort, etc, then had to prove their
    intentions/meaning job, and then took classes that taught a brief overview of the nations society, laws and language. In addition to this, a fee was charged. if you had ANY off-color marks on your record, you were denied permission to stay in the country.If you were found guilty of a crime while in the country, you were booted out. Unless you had attained citizenship, then the courts would be more envolved.

    Is this so hard for the United States to aquire? Are we really this stupid? is it really only about modern slavery in select industries such as agriculture, hospitality and food service? if so, we are a sad nation and destined to become far less than what we are today. Do we really want the crime and poverty that our system will and does support? Do we really enjoy seeing decent areas turned into dumps? I grew up in The San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles and I've 'seen'
    what it has been reduced too. Its not pretty.

    And as for the old argument that The United States somehow keeps all of central and south America in its 'place' by gun and drug trade ,well, c'mon. The Roman Catholic Church along with Spain did a fine job of destroying peoples and societies in these regions long before we were ever even thought of. And 'The Church' continues to turn a blind eye to the many dictatorships that keep these people in squalor year after year ,yet, continually ask for these peoples support and souls. And, they get them. I also find it interesting that the King of Spain shows up in South America every once in awhile as well. How little changes.

    My stepfather is from Mexico, he came here illegaly and became an American Citizen as well-poor as the rest may I add. he always says that in Mexico, the farther up the money and political ladder you go, the more 'Castilian' things begin to look. So much for the revolution. And the way things are going, so much for ours as well unfortunately.

    April 16, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. jrod

    12 million, s people have been here for years, 5,10, 20 or more and paying taxes and spending money on stores, yes I think that is a good deal that they are getting. Good for them.

    April 16, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. humtake

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

    Take out "pay back taxes" and the people agreeing will go down to well below 50%.

    April 16, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. gregor1971

    Most of the illegal immigrants will be a net drag on the economy. There are exceptions, but they are few. Most will qualify for government assistance, and the programs they do not currently enjoy will be added to their list. The few that do pay more in taxes than they use will be so outnumbered by those that are net negatives. You should read some of the their message boards and blogs. So many comments like, "Can't wait until we qualify for more government help."

    April 16, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. Dave Harris

    Somethings wrong with this figure. Republicans, regrettably, are more than 16% of the electorate. This would means that some of them are in favor of letting illegal aliens become citizens. Horrors, amnesty! Masteria! Maybe they just didn't understand the question.

    April 16, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Wow. I am legal here since 7 yrs and legally working and paying approx 25% tax all these yrs. I might have to wait for another 5 yr to get my Green Card and all these illegals will get there. I am high skilled worker and have no crime or DUI or any bad record all these years.Why not fix legal immigrant issue too? Is it because i will anyway keep paying tax so govt. don't care for us? They don't understand that if they can fix this issue, i can buy house and invest here. I am not against illegal immigrants but if you are fixing the thing, fix everything.

    April 16, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. Daskraken

    The 14th Amendment was created to address the issues of slaves born in the United States. It was not designed to help people flaute our immigration laws. I as surprised there has never been a successful challenge to remove the ability for illegals to have anchor babies.

    April 16, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. panamario

    with our unemployment problem, we are willing to give illegal aliens the little amount of jobs available.. Are we stupid? The majority of illegals that ran across our borders, are unskilled and uneducated. Great contribution to our society.

    April 16, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. J

    None of the polls I have read say that! This is just more propoganda from the left to convince normal people to change their minds on this issue. Shame on them.

    April 16, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  23. Jerry A.

    The "secure border with Mexico" requirement is a great way to delay implementation forever and make the bill completely useless. How are we going to secure an almost 2,000 mile land border with Mexico? The fiasco of a border fence is less than 650 miles long and is expected to cost more than 4 Billion dollars. This ignores the fact that the original "Iron Curtain" was an utter failure. When is the GOP going to learn?

    April 16, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. ug

    No "most" don't see it that way...you don't speak for me! so quit lying cnn!

    April 16, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. Harley

    The Mexican immigrants we get in the USA are mostly uneducated and/or criminal and lack appropriate job skills. I've done business in many regions of Mexico and I know for a fact their Tech schools are very good and I've seen supervisors up to Managers make $35,000 – $80,000 USD annually. Believe me , this population would not even consider leaving to come to the USA.

    April 16, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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