CNN Poll: Big generational divide in immigration battle
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year 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. Thomas

    11 million and all from the same country. How about giving an opportunity to other countries that are patiently waiting long years. Not to mention that 11 million illegal immigrant have zero education not even elementary school once they get their visas, Guess what? they've got to have affordable health care that we are going to pay for them since they can't. That will drive the cost of health insurance up.

    June 18, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Larry L

    @yippeeskip

    Secure the border, then come talk to me...
    ===================
    I met an man in 1985 who had fled East Germany days before the Wall was built. He had been a Soldier in WWII and was given sancutary by the West when he escaped. He told me something important... He said when you place guards on a border to keep people out of your country you are but one military command (to the guards) away from a totolitarian state... that command is "about face".

    June 18, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. bobby

    The easiest way to secure the border is to make getting caught not worth the attempt. Build a new prison-like structure where we put them to work as we catch them sneaking across the border. After about five years we let them out and send them back. If caught again then keep them for ten years next time. I promise this will work.

    June 18, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Dave

    Most people who say bad things about immigrants base their ideas on the fact that they are breaking the law. So, we need to change the law so they aren't breaking it. Problem solved.

    June 18, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. aaron

    Reagan's Great Amnesty of 1986 was supposed to be a one time deal to deal fairly with illegal aliens and settle the issue once and for all. And, now here's the sequel.

    June 18, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Just Another Vet

    This is an easy one, build the wall have all that want to become citizens leave and re-enter leaglly with paper work, just like my dad did at Elase Island in 1944, then they can start the 13 year journey to citizenship. Those who refuse to leave get deported and can make a choice when they fill good and ready to be up front about their status. I had to go through this for my wife via 2 overseas embassies the Dept of State and a few hundred dollars later and we renew her status every ten years at the tuen of a couple Gs and the proper forms.

    June 18, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. MLL

    I am for a road to legal immigration. My biggest disappointment is the e-verify program. If you want to build a security wall this is the key to success. Under e-verify every employee's Social Security number is vetted against the Federal data base to insure their SS number is legitimate. The Senate program requires that only employers of 500 plus people need apply. In addition it gives them 5 years to get into compliance. Ridicules!!! Who do you think are hiring illegal's? They are construction companies, landscaping companies, fast food restaurants, roofing companies, etc. These employers would not even be required to vet their employees like thousand of more small businesses. I personally implemented a program 8 years ago for a company, which was infiltrated with illegal's via a personnel agency, of 125 personnel and $20 million in sales I managed and it took me one week. I did it on everyone we hired so we would not be accused of discrimination. Illegal's come to this country for jobs period. The best fence we can build is the requirement that all businesses be required to e-verify for all employees and be prepared to show proof. Severe fines for those who don't.

    June 18, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Larry L

    A sophisticated and coded identification card could solve the problem. Cards could match to retinal scans, fingerprints, or even DNA. If every financial transaction (for everybody in America) required a swipe of the card a person here illegally couldn't rent a home, buy a car, cash a check, buy a money order, board an airplane, bus or train, or enroll a child in school. A swipe of the card could extract from paychecks Social Security contributions, relevant taxes, and money already owed for previous illegal immigration fines. Cards would be issued to guest workers – coded to expire when the work permit period ended. I can already hear the Fox News drones raving about the "mark of the beast' or the "guvement" tracking them... How hard is it now to track our financial transactions? Why wouldn't this work? Would it be expensive? Sure. But it would cost far than putting 11 million people in gulags and making our borders like the Berlin Wall.

    June 18, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Michael Ohio

    First....per the 2010 US Census, whites make up 72.6% of the US Population. So, "Huh." is absolutely wrong.

    Second....we are about to bring home thousands of troops that have been training and fighting in arid, desert terrains for the past 8-10 years. We already have the gear and troops trained. Stick them along the border. They'll be home. They'll be near family (at least in the same country), and they will be safer than over in the middle east and southern Asia.

    Third....shame on anyone who claims that hispanic immigrants are all gang bangers and the like. SHAME ON YOU.

    June 18, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. what the ****

    Get them the hell out! If you want to come to America then do it the RIGHT way whats wrong with that.

    June 18, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. Truth Hurts

    First off I don't believe that the 545 members of Congress who have screwed this up for 30-40 years has any clue how to fix it. I do not trust any of them ...especially the Demorats on this issue. Maybe Pelosi wants to "just sign this bill then we can see what is in it later" Sorry – illegals should never get a step up on anyone trying to get into this country legally. It's flat out wrong. We need some avenue for them to work here but this falls far short. There should also be ZERO chance of any govt assistance until they became citizens

    June 18, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. Wilson

    Huge fines for business/people that hire illegals. Remove the reason for them to be here, and they will leave. Then remove the anchor baby capability and secure our borders and follow the existing laws.

    June 18, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Peoples State of Illinois

    Looking like it is time to play a good game of "cowboys and illegals."

    June 18, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. Larry L

    @John Illinois

    You do not reward illegal alien criminals; you deport them like every other country does!
    =====================
    Please show us your plan to find, arrest, feed, provide medical care, hold deportation hearings, coordinate their deportation with host nations, and transport 11 million people to foreign lands. I suppose we'd need gulags like the Soviet Union used. We could use all of our cattle trucks and train cars to pack them in for shipping. That worked well for Hitler. If they get violent because we're breaking up families we could shoot them on the spot – like they did in the killing fields of Cambodia. Anyway... I'm certain you have a plan. Please share it with us.

    June 18, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Brendan

    I'm young and I say march them all back to Mexico. Learn the language, wait in line like everyone else and get the hell out.

    June 18, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  16. Michael

    Larry, just remove the benefits of being here and they'll leave on their own. If the grass is not greener on the other side, noone will bother to climb the fence. p.s. we already provide food, medical care, and transportation to these people ...and they do it by borrowing money from China and signing our children's names to the debt. How stupid can we be to perpetuate this insanity? And for what benefit to us or our children?

    June 18, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Name j-dogg

    I just want to say that I am a democrat and I don't want to give amnesty to illegal immigrants because when I go to my dialysis treatments there are hispanics in there bragging about how they can come here and get all kinds of welfare benefits but have not paid any taxes.

    June 18, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Ray

    The article states that passage of this bill would give Obama a big second term victory,but a majority of Americans do not agree with him. Seems a majority didn't agree with him on Obamacare and that didn't seem to bother him all that much. The guy is a wannabe dictator. Best to just bottle him and his agenda up and wait out the next few years.

    June 18, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. Peoples State of Illinois

    @Larry L

    @John Illinois

    You do not reward illegal alien criminals; you deport them like every other country does!
    =====================
    Please show us your plan to find, arrest, feed, provide medical care, hold deportation hearings, coordinate their deportation with host nations, and transport 11 million people to foreign lands. I suppose we'd need gulags like the Soviet Union used. We could use all of our cattle trucks and train cars to pack them in for shipping. That worked well for Hitler. If they get violent because we're breaking up families we could shoot them on the spot – like they did in the killing fields of Cambodia. Anyway... I'm certain you have a plan. Please share it with us.
    ----
    Larry, you have some good ideas. They are illegals, they deserve what you suggest.

    June 18, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Cidnyjak

    You guys are really going to sit here and say that all illegal aliens are criminals and what not when in reality all of those shootings that have happened lately (Colorado Theater shooting, School shoot out, Boston Shooting, Southern California shooting) have been US Citizens and when they go to trial they are "Mentally Unstable" never have you seen a mass shooting like that come from an illegal alien looking for work. Also out of 10 people asking for money on the streets, highway entrances etc mostly are white people. I am not a racist person but when people refer to them as all being criminals that is an unfair testimony. So before you start pointing finger please check the facts, and for reference I am a US CITIZEN.

    June 18, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. LucyRicardo

    How about cutting off immigration until all American citizens are employed first? Immigrants are not building our country like they used to. Now if one of them gets a job or opens a business, they hoard the jobs and make sure their own people are employed at those jobs. And how about the infestations they have brought with them? The U.S. never had this bedbug problem we have now. Try to find a hotel in New York, Washington, D.C. or Las Vegas without a bedbug complaint. Lots 'o' luck! They didn't even quarrantine these people and now those of us who were born here are suffering. And they have brought their bad habits and ideas with them. Many of these Asian cultures, in particular, have no respect for women. It's time we spoke up for ourselves. This is ridiculous. And they are getting pushier and more aggressive all the time.

    June 18, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. z&hcats

    Most of the illegal are from Mexico,can we discuss this issue with its new President? It's ashamed to be a leader to see so many of his countrymen to put their life at stake and separate their love ones to across the border. Also, Mexico is the 3rd largest exporter of oil to the US,why is the revenue?

    June 18, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. raf

    i don't care if one employee or self employee they all should me e-veryfy

    June 18, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. Yakobi

    "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."

    That's because once you get a job and see how much of your paycheck goes to Medicare, you start to realize exactly how much illegal immigrants cost you.

    June 18, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. USA

    11 million and all from the same country. How about giving an opportunity to other countries that are patiently waiting long years. Not to mention that 11 million illegal immigrant have zero education not even elementary school once they get their visas, Guess what? they've got to have affordable health care that we are going to pay for them since they can't. That will drive the cost of health insurance up.

    Because the 11 million from the same country you are speaking of (Mexico) vote Democrat. THATS THE ONLY REASON the Dems want them.

    June 18, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
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