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. Concerned Citizen

    Most? I would find it hard to believe they survey anyone other than their own subscribers or readers and would refute that it's a balanced demographic. This site is becoming so Leftist that I only come on here anymore to see how stories differ from Fox and MSNBC.

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

    I don't understand how this works. So they have to admit they commited a crime, used fraudulent identity to work, are still working for a company that hired them illegally and prove whether they paid taxes via the stolen identity they used? Um. What?

    April 16, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. MackN

    I totally agree with you.

    April 16, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. lucyl15

    I'd be interested in seeing the details of the sample. What were the demographics of the sample, and what exactly was asked? Were they specifically asked about a pathway to citizenship for "undocumented workers" or were they asked about a pathway to citizenship for "immigrants" (which is what pro-illegal polls typically ask and then replace "immigrants" with "illegal aliens" or "undocumented workers" when they publish the results). Usually these samples are heavily skewed in one way or another. 80% now and in 2007 is highly suspect;

    April 16, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. pachy

    "pay back taxes."


    For how far back, and on what income, and at what rate, and how about interest and penalties, and what about personal exemptions backdated, and what about "Moving Expenses" related to their new "job".

    We can't even get our elected representatives (e.g. Rangle) to pay their taxes.

    I'm sure that all of their Quicken, Vanguard, Schwab and Fidelity accounts are current and accurate.

    April 16, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Kevin Hayes

    This is ridiculous. These people should have to go back to Mexico and enter this country the right way. The ones that are entering illegally are the criminals and riff raff. Send them all back to Mexico.

    April 16, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. MackN

    The purpose of immigration is to help support our country. We want doctors, lawyers, skilled labor, to immigrate to our great country. Providing a path to citizenship for folks who are simply running away from a bad situation in their own country, and looking for a hand-out in our country only serves to bring down our economy even further. Another mouth to feed, another child to support. As much as I would love to solve all the worlds problems, we just can't. Especially when those folks were willing to break the law to get here. Secure our borders, stop the in-rush of illegal immigrants. Then we can talk about pathway to citizenship for those currently here.

    April 16, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Linda C - AZ

    I do not believe in rewarding lawbreakers; go to the back of the line!

    April 16, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. JustaGuy

    This following comment is pure BS ! "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%." These polls are obviously manipulated by the media itself. The only path that should be available for illegal immigrants is the path that leads them OUT of the U.S. !

    April 16, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Hillcrester

    One way or another, it's gonna happen,

    April 16, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    The fourteenth amendment was designed to grant citizens to African Americans because they had no immigration papers. But many people don't understand exactly how nearly everyone relies on the 14th amendment to prove citizenship. Without the 14th Amendment, proving that you are a legally here means proving that your parents were citizens at the time of your birth, which means proving that their parents were citizens at the time of their birth, all the way up until you can trace your citizenship back to parents who came here on the Mayflower, to Native Americans or to someone with naturalization or other immigration papers. Just showing your own birth certificate would not cut it. Immigrants would actually find it easier to prove citizenship then would 'native born' legal Americans.

    The pre 14th Amendment way to be a citizen was to be a citizen of a state, and the states were notoriously evil in the methods they used for determining who that would be until an amendment was passed that fixed that little bit of tyrrany.

    April 16, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. Ed1

    When you come in the front door and follow the rules that should be the only otherwise you are an illegal period.

    Just in case you didn't illegal is illegal when will we wake up and stop all this crap.

    April 16, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. billmosby

    DHS said the border was secure 2 years ago in testimony before congress. Now it has to be secured again? Sounds like the same old run-around on that issue at least.

    April 16, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Bob Jones

    This poll is a fraud, it is a plant by the obama regime to try and hoodwink americans into accepting yet another mass amnesty as our unemployment rates rises and the middle class is impoverished. This is the fascist obama regime and its corporate allies' biggest dream, crush the middle class so that they are all dependent upon the gov't for welfare/handouts, while endless streams of illegal aliens flow across the border depressing wages for corporates.

    That the immigration vote is taking place at the same time as the gun control/confiscation legislation is being deliberated on is no accident; america is headed for a corporate/gov't-controlled orwellian fascist state – and the corporate-owned and manipulated media, with its fake polls like this one – are clues to what is going on. Rise up America, and take back our country.

    April 16, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. jamesnyc

    Unless they close the incentives like the birthright clause in the 14th amendment, this is a waste of breath.

    April 16, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. wedjy

    The U.S. should embrace Mexico as our neighbor, strike a trade agreement to send manufacturing jobs thier way in stead of China, who is not our neighbor, in which would help combat the drug cartels. This provides incentive to not come into the U.S. illegally and a foundation for better relationship with Mexico. Mexican should be able to apply for and be considered and accepted for jobs in the U.S market place, be able to get SSN's and require to pay taxes accordingly. These are our neighbors, why would we send jobs to China when at some point in time we will need our neighbors support. It is the right thing to do.

    April 16, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Sam Wilson

    A bigger and more far reaching question is will we finally close the border so we do not have to keep on doing this (giving amnesty) every couple of decades?

    April 16, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. deb0155

    I think that after yesterday's terror attack in Boston, I don't think anyone believes in a "pathway to citizenship" for illegals. First and foremost, we should know who the hell is in this country before we give anyone citizenship! Enough is enough – how much more do the American people have to go through to be protected by our own government!

    April 16, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Al

    Sorry but I am not swayed one bit. If there is a need for immigrants, the privilege should go to those who have been waiting patiently in their own countries for a legal opportunity, not to those who snuck across our border in the middle of the night.

    April 16, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. JQ

    I still do not agree with any type of given path to citizenship unless and until they FIX the INS and NVC organizations as well as part of the legislation package. My wife has been patiently waiting for 23 years to get one of her sisters her through LEGAL channels, and I think it is very strongly unfair for any ILLEGALS (yes they are illegals) to be given a "green stamp" towards citizenship here without this system fixed to allow those who do wait LEGALLY to be given the same speedy processing opportunities.

    April 16, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. spike

    Despite promises of border enforcement in previous amnesties, it never happened. I refuse to believe another lie. This will unleash a wave of chain migration like this nation has never seen. Lower wages, higher unemployment, more welfare benefits will be the result and we as a nation don't need any of those results. They are being bought off by the corporations again and again at the expense of American citizens

    April 16, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. renee

    IF you are Christian, you might be interested in reading this. If not, you should skip it.

    They should have to give to Caesar what is Caesar's. The Bible is clear.

    But the Bible also defends immigration.

    Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV

    “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

    Deuteronomy 27:19 ESV

    “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

    April 16, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. jyves95

    people who follow the rules apply for a visa, wait for 7 years, then, apply for a green card, wait for 5 years, then, can request to become a US citizen. Others who break the low.. will just become US citizens.. just like this.. That's... fair...
    That must be the new 28th Amendment. People who break the law have priorities.

    April 16, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Ohioan

    This poll is obviously fake. I spoke to many people about this issue and none of them favor any kind of legalization for illegals. I have to see the questions in the poll.

    April 16, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Politics Above The Law - BAD

    No amnesty for illegals! Do not change the law for votes! That is the quickest way to become a banana republic. The polls are all garbage – you can prase anything a certain way to get the results you want. In this day and age =- WHO, in their right mind, WOULD TRUST THE GOVERNMENT? There will be no end to the stream of illegals if they are not deported! As it is, unskilled, non-english speaking south americans are pouring into the country – what will these people do? Who will pay for them?

    April 16, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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