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. sly

    I am so glad the Republicans voted down any immigration reform.

    This way the 15 million illegal immigrants get to stay in America forever.

    Smart move Republicans – right up there with nominating Mitt Romney.

    They dont call themselves The Party of Stupid for nothin!

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

    I for one am tired of having my Tax dollars support generations of Illegals, I see many of them on a daily basis, They have their kids born here and the kids are having kids, all getting Welfare. They DON'T want to work, its a way of life for them.. Why should they, everything is handed to them. Free Cash aid, Section 8 Housing, Medical, Education, Food stamps, WIC. So what do they spend the Cash Aid on? Fancy expensive cars, with boom boxes, Chrome wheels, Drugs and send money back to Mexico.

    But for us Tax Payers, if we lose our jobs and need and ask for assistance.. WE DON'T QUALIFY!!!! As
    Explained to my Mother when she for the first time ever asked for help, NOT for money, food or housing but needed help for heart medication only, till she found another job. Quote the Worker.." Your not Illegal with children born here under the age18, or pregnant!!

    They need to take all the incentives for them coming here away!

    June 18, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. needNewGov

    We need these people here to do the jobs Americans won't do, so the question is how do we keep them here and simply have them pay for services and taxes as the rest of us do. To only want a death zone at the border is ignorant.

    June 18, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. AmericanVoiice

    As an Asian American I am against any amnesty to Illegals, i will vote for republicans for 2014 and 16.

    June 18, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. to much to believe

    Eric Holder brings lawsuits against states that try to uphold laws aalready on the books. We are supposed to believe Obama/ Holder will uphold any laws this bill will entail.

    June 18, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Phil

    1) Secure the border.
    2) Begin deportations.

    June 18, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. KBW

    Pass the bill and all hell will break out this time. We know the senate and congress work for the rich.

    June 18, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Andrew1970

    The issue with immigrants in the US is there is no spread of equality in terms of race/ehtnicity. The US is build on immigrants.. immigrants who comes from all over sharing their ideas and bring their own rich culture into our land and thus enhancing it. THAT is a good thing!
    HOWEVER what we see today is that 90% of immigrants are from a single country (Mexico). That is not necessarily a good thing because when an overwhelming majority of immigrants comes from a single culture, a single race then the positives of an immigrant society backfires and it actually becomes a negative. Instead of enriching the American culture with their own, the immigrants retain 100% of their own culture. Instead of a country of immigrants it becomes a country of 'one type of immigrant.

    June 18, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. alf564

    This one is easy...its True Americans AGAINST the bill and democrats, rino's and anti-America for the bill....The ACLU, La Raza and obama love the bill...so does John McCain who is now playing in left field with lindsey Graham

    June 18, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. Jerry Okamura

    For those who want to strengthen border security, how much money are they willing to spend on that activity, and for how long do they want to spend that money?

    June 18, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  11. Roger

    The young were spoiled and brain washed by the perverse Clinton Department of Education.

    June 18, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Revolution

    They can come here and I will go to Mexico. They have better president

    June 18, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. les

    Can Canadians apply for this new "dreamer" status? Or should we change our names to something a little more latin sounding? I want to come down to vote in your next election, since you don't have to show legal status.

    June 18, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. ruth

    Our politicians say you can not bus illegal immigrants back to Mexico.....really?.....President Eisenhower did!...secure the borders first.....how about the 7-11 stores ,these people come here and abuse the very freedom that our Founding Fathers fought so hard for....deport them too,and why are we allowing them to do this....try to cross the border into Mexico,or Pakistan .......send them all back,and take your dual citizenship people with you...they drop a baby when they are ready to give birth here in the USA to get this .....and all the benefits....if you are pregnant stay where you are and have it in YOUR country not the USA

    June 18, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Anastasia Beverhausen

    What is the incentive to come to this country legally then?

    June 18, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. sarum

    PigPOOH! The younger generations are the ones un & under employed due to illegal immigration.

    June 18, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. Heidi taylor

    The people that think they should be allowed amnesty do not live next door to them nor do they have to deal with them on a daily basis. The Americans that do not want them to be given amnesty, do have to deal with them on a daily basis, and they do live next door to them. I live in Florida, and I do have to deal with the illegals here everyday. They are not only criminals by being here illegally, but they are also already criminals that think everything that I have worked for my whole life now belongs to them. They steal, they drive without licenses, they get paid under the table, they collect welfare and free housing and medical. I know Americans that do not get those benefits, that deserve them. And I also know that there is more than 18 million illegals here in America, so I don't know why they keep trying to sell us the 11 million. Lock up your house, your garage, your daughters, your wife's and your children, these are not family people that are coming to sponge off American Tax Dollars, they are criminals that they don't even want in Mexico and other countries.

    June 18, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Roscoe

    Hey if, Hitler had sent 11,000,000 Germans to this country I am pretty sure the plan would have been to get rid of them.

    June 18, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Mike

    It's gonna cost a lot of money to the taxpayers. Plain and simple. Not to mention leaving out whole swaths of Asian and European immigrants who probably will contribute more.

    So it's a nice moral argument. But that's about it. It is not better for the country.

    June 18, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. skytag

    @ Larry L: "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."

    Don't hold your breathe. I've asked countless people to detail their plan for identifying and deporting 11 million illegals and not one of them has ever even responded. I hate the idea of people being here illegally as much as anyone. I wasn't happy when Ronald Reagan granted 2.7 million illegals amnesty in 1986. But both parties have ignored this problem so long I see no practical way to identify and deport 11 million illegals at this point. It's a fine pipe dream in my opinion, but the practical challenges seem insurmountable to me. People like John Illinois obviously haven't thought this through. They're angry about the problem and want it to go away, so they say "deport them!" without considering the practical realities involved in making that happen.

    June 18, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. Kathy

    You wanted cheap labor for years... Now we all have to pay!!!

    June 18, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  22. Ge

    Get rid of the parasites period...

    June 18, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. FajitaBob

    A majority of Americans don't even know what the current bill is. How the ^%$%^@$%3 do they support it?

    June 18, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. Kamikaze

    Might as well cut off Puerto Rico too while you're add it. That's 3.7 million US citizens that don't pay Federal Personal Income Tax.

    June 18, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. Summer

    I think any telephone poll is going to be unreliable these days. It almost certainly would skew towards the beliefs of the older generation, which is less likely to approve of Obama or favor immigration reform. Most young people have only cell phones. I've never received a poll call on my cell, but I did several times on a land line when I had it.

    June 18, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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