CNN Poll: Big generational divide in immigration battle
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 months ago

CNN Poll: Big generational divide in immigration battle

Washington (CNN) - While a small majority of Americans are in favor of the immigration bill currently before the U.S. Senate, according to a new national poll the old and young don't see eye to eye on the issue.

And a CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that more than six in ten say border security rather than a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants should be the bigger priority.

The poll's Tuesday morning release comes as a bill backed by the bipartisan 'Gang of Eight' senators faces more legislative hurdles. The measure would offer a 13-year path to eventual citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country. If the legislation passes through the Democratic Senate, it would face an uncertain future in the Republican dominated House of Representatives.

According to the poll, 51% say they support a bill that would attempt to increase border security and create a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants, with 45% saying they are opposed to such a measure.

"Support comes mostly from Democrats - six in ten favor the bill - with independents and Republicans split right down the middle," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is also a generation gap on this issue, with senior citizens opposed to the bill by a 17-point margin, while younger Americans tend to favor it."

The poll's release also comes as some GOP senators ready an amendment to the 'Gang of Eight' bill that they say would further bolster border security. Sixty-two percent of those questioned in the survey say that border security should be the main focus U.S. immigration policy, with 36% saying that creating an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants should be the top priority.

"Republicans and independents strongly support making border security the top concern, but even Democrats are split on this question," adds Holland.

There's also a generational divide, with those age 18-34 split on what's most important, and large majorities of those age 35 and older saying border security should be the top priority when it comes to immigration policy.

President Barack Obama and Democrats want to fulfill a promise to Hispanic Americans, the nation's fastest-growing demographic and a key voting bloc, to address the limbo of the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the country. If the bill becomes law, it would be one of the president's major legislative achievements of his second term.

But the poll indicates a majority of Americans don't give Obama a thumbs up on the issue. Only four in ten say they approve of the job he's doing on illegal immigration, with 56% saying they disapprove of his performance on the issue. Those numbers are little changed in CNN polling dating back to 2009, the president's first year in the White House.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11-13, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. jim

    We need to secure the border with land mines and sentry guns.

    June 18, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. regenesis0

    13 years, huh? And what happens when you register with the program then, 6 years in, it becomes politically expedient to scrap it... and you're stuck as a registered illegal and first on the deportation list?
    Would you trust the Government to remain consistent on a contention and oft-reversed issue that is #1 in the crosshairs to kill for one of the parties... for a 13 year period required for it to be enacted?

    June 18, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Kellog

    Why are do we refer to refugees as illegal immigrants? We should train them all up and send them back to Mexico to fight off the cartels and make their country better rather than running to our country to become slaves and negatively effect our economy.

    June 18, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Marie

    I wonder why people complain about immigrants, but yet they hire them – they share their social security numbers and companies don't bother to check as long as they hire them cheap, the corporations, should be fined big time – stop giving them jobs, and they would stop coming in and bringing their drugs with them. It is our countries own fault, they want to be friends with everyone, even when they are hurting our country.

    June 18, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. dontcarewhoyouare

    I don't care what color your skin is or if I am in the minority or majority. What matters is that no one gets to cheat their way in to this country when others are following the rules. That is the utmost insult to anybody who became a citizen the right way.

    Securing the borders is a good investment if it does actually reduce the flow of illegal entry and it's not just to stop people it is to stop them from brining dangerous, illegal, hazardous, etc... materials in to the country.

    And there is no easy way to solve the millions of illegals we have now, the logistics of finding them and the cost of sending them back home would be astronomical. Better to give them that pathway but make it a one-time opportunity and then close that loop.

    Consider it a reboot that has to happen for everything else to click.

    June 18, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. sm5574

    In historic cultures, older people were revered as wise. Now they are rejected as being hopelessly behind the times.

    June 18, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Chana

    This polls shows you how stupid young people are. Right now the illegals do the jobs "that nobody wants" but you think that after getting a green card they are going to continue doing those jobs?? Commom sense tells you that they will not be applying for middle/upper management jobs! They will apply for....you guessed it...entry level and lower pay jobs...they same jobs that the young people. To any young person out there good luck trying to find a job after this bill passes. Way to go!!!

    Legal immigrant.

    June 18, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Tea Party Thomas

    Why reward illegals for breaking our laws?

    June 18, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    hang em all!!!!!!

    June 18, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. sm5574

    The young today have no respect for anyone or anything. They think that being sympathetic to criminals is "being nice," and they blindly ignore all those who toil and sacrifice to live within the law.

    June 18, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. Bubba

    My biggest hope, is that when Jesus returns; he returns as Jesus ("Hey-seus") and asks His gun loving, wealth sharing hating, "conservatives" what they thought they were doing.
    When our Lord does return, He better return as the blond-blue eyed Jesus, because Southern Conservatives are going to deport or jail the middle-eastern looking Jesus.
    This is not an argument about jobs, or criminal residency status. This is really an issue about what America is today.
    If America still stands for Freedom, then open the doors, but if it now stands for a corporate based lifestyle, bar the doors. It is simple really. Christians love, share, and do not judge. Americans welcome the "least of these", and we even have a statue to prove it.
    However, one way or the other, all Americans will choose, just as one day all will be JUDGED.

    June 18, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. Kevin

    Sorry Huh, but please dont make it a race issue..I am a minority who came here legally who is against illegal immigration. Its a spit in the face to automatically give citizenship to those who came here illegally when there are already folks here legally waiting for citizenship..Sorry but if they dont want their families broken up, they should have thought about it before coming across the border illegally...

    June 18, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. Agrav8td

    There is no more room, and we have more people here than we have jobs.

    June 18, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  14. Bobpitt

    I am proud to be a snowback… la la la..
    Came through the prairies hiding with the bison… la la la
    Came swimming through the lakes…la la la
    Swimming through the rivers…la la la

    I am a proud snowback from Montreal… la la
    I am a proud snowback from Montreal… la la

    Love to sing..!!!

    June 18, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. us_1776

    The United States has 12,500 miles of coastline border.

    The United States has 4,100 miles of Canadian border.

    The United States has 2,000 miles of Mexican border.

    A total of 18,600 miles of border much of it wilderness or open sea access.

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to completely secure the borders of the United States.

    It would take more money than the entire GDP of the country to accomplish such a goal.

    Therefore it is only political theatre to try and link secure borders to anything to do with immigration reform.

    ..

    June 18, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Me

    Illegal immigration would stop instantly if companies that place flyers across the border for employment and hire illegal immigrants were held accountable. The immigrants are bombarded with promises of a better life in El Norte when they are in their native country. The companies depend on their cheap, disposable workforce, and they have better lobbyists. Illegal immigrants should form a lobby group, they would have immigration reform in a week. Protecting our border is like stopping water through a sieve, you can plug one hole, however, there is always another hole they will flow through no matter how many fences get built, or border agents get hired.

    June 18, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. guest

    Gen X and Y – What goes around comes around. Lucky for you you'll never be old. Ha!

    June 18, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. john blackName

    I dont think illegal should be legal

    June 18, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. HomeBoy

    NO anchor babies to benefit the illegal moms, NO benefits to illegal families, NO jobs to illegals, NO transfer of funds back home by illegals and I would bet that the illegal influx would drop like a stone.

    June 18, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. victor

    Why is it they never show you what questions were asked in these polls. Almost everyone I speak with wants an immigration reform bill, so who the hell are they polling. I never get a call from pollsters and I,m a voter 40 years and 63 years old living in Florida. I believe that the questions asked are geared to the pollsters interest and that,s why you get these inaccurate results..... For instance Gallop had Romney ahead of Obama by 3 points hours before the election results. How can you be so wrong...so much for polling credibility!!!

    June 18, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. navymom

    I'm all for getting rid of criminals that come over the border, but there is a biger picture here. We have seen a huge increase in Muslim immigrants and no one seems to care. Remember that they still enslave their own kind and will not hesitate to do that same here. We need to be careful about how many of them we let into the country or we'll become overrun by them just like Europe. At least the Mexicans are christians & not terrorists, so for those of you who are against them, remember that there is much worse out there and much worse than can happen here if we don't watch out!

    June 18, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Ernie zippreplat

    Once the 30 million illegal invaders are given ammesty and have to start paying taxes no one will hire them and so 30 million more on welfare!

    June 18, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. janelle

    It's Common Sense 101 here folks. If we don't secure the border, we are going to be right back here in the exact same discussion over and over again. It's really not that hard to figure out. Secure the border first! Stop in influx of future illegal immigrants (and anyone else trying to sneak into this country), THEN we reform the immigration system to handle the 11 million already here, and make sure that in the future immigration is all legally done. It's not rocket science!

    June 18, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Shaun

    So what do we expect really? These people were in a sense brought here, or at the very least "allowed" to come in while we were looking the other way. Corporations have use and abused them and we did not bother. Did anyone of was actually so bothered when the illegal at a Chipotle was wrapping the burrito? Hell no.

    June 18, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Allyson

    In 1986, We The People were PROMISED by the President and the Republican and Democratic parties that, if amnesty was granted to the 2 – 3 million illegals that were in this country, the border would be secured. The American People agreed and amnesty was granted. The border was NEVER secured. I live in a border state. Our children's educations are suffering because teachers must spend more time with and try and educate students that do not speak English. Legal Business suffers because they can not compete with illegals who do not abide by the law. They pay no federal or state taxes, workers comp. fees, state and county business registration fees or license fees. Our town is over run with gangs and drugs. Our unemployment is 7.6%. Can someone please explain to me how giving 11 million or more illegals amnesty will put Americans back to work? In 1986, 2 -3 million illegals were made citizens and the American citizens were promised a secure border. We were hoodwinked! What makes this time around any different? Wake up America, we are being lied to again! SECURE OUR BORDER FIRST then we can figure out what to do with the illegals that are here.

    June 18, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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