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. thetruth

    nooooooooooononononono. send all these illegal mexicans out of our country go house to house if u must. they will bring the dwnfall of our already declining country we do not need all these hispanics i know it sounds prejudice but believe me im far from it, i simply know that millions of these illegals if not more.. are mooching off our tax payer $$$.. we ARE ALREADY WHAT LIKE 8 TRILLION IN DEBT?? WE CANT AFFORD THEM END OF STORY. SEAL OUR BORDERS & GET RID OF ALL THESE BUMS.

    June 18, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  2. Dick Cheney

    Round em up and exterminate them!!!!

    June 18, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  3. jamesnyc

    I have said this a thousand times on many blogs. Fix the birthright clause of the 14th amendment and start from there. Stop the incentives that create the illegal immigration and enforce what is already on the books. Arizona is constantly being hit by the federal government for overstepping its bounds but the feds have to do their jobs.
    Stop worrying about the Latino vote and do what is right for the majority of the American people and the people who actually pay taxes.

    June 18, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  4. Holly

    I voted for Obama and am upset that he is so pro illegals. However, since Regan, the other presidends have thumbed their nose at the 99% of Americans who want these people here without proper invitation to go home. There would be jobs available for our own. Don't say they are the jobs that American won't do. That is hog wash. I have family members that can't get a job anywhere and would wecome any type of job even minimun wage. We must close our borders and stop allowing people here who hate Americans. Don't close all borders and stop visas to people of certain faiths then what is the use?

    June 18, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  5. billmosby

    Funny how the article seems to make it sound like "senior citizens" includes everybody over 35. It doesn't really come out and say it, but it does indicate "large majorities of those age 35 and older saying border security should be the top priority" and "senior citizens opposed to the bill by a 17-point margin". Perhaps those stories we read from time to time about how once you reach 35 in engineering and tech your job is taken by a cheap H1B replacement.

    Also interesting that 60 percent plus give border security as a top priority. If the bill passes in the shape it's in now, that means about 2/3 of the people will be quite disappointed with it.

    No wonder the rush is on to make it a law before we know what's happening. There's been a bit too much of that in the last few years.

    June 18, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  6. Go Home

    Here illegally;GO HOME!
    Here legally; WELCOME!
    any clearer?

    June 18, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  7. texasnotea

    Republicans are scared to death of all those Mexicans being able to vote Democratic in 13 years when they get their citizenship. There is justice after all.

    June 18, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Of course the older generation are more willing to believe that border security is important. They have had it ingrained that we are being quietly invaded from South of the Border by "brown-skinned hordes" looking to overturn our life style by every mook on AM radio and Faux News.

    June 18, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Surprising how low on information most Americans seem to be. They actually believe:
    There are only 11mn illegals
    They will actually pay back taxes!
    The fine is substantial.
    They will learn English

    In REALITY, there will be 20-25mn illegals, that will grow to minimum 80mn in 15 years through family sponsorship,
    they aren't going to pay back taxes when their cash earnings can never be proven, fine is 2,000 which is payable interest free over 10 years and many cases can be waived, English means just enrolling in an English language class, even if it lasts just one day.

    If AMERICANS KNEW the fine print, 95% would be against it.

    June 18, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  10. billmosby

    The article seems to say "senior citizens" includes everybody over 35: "large majorities of those age 35 and older saying border security should be the top priority" and "senior citizens opposed to the bill by a 17-point margin".

    Maybe those stories we read about how once you reach 35 in engineering and tech your job is taken by a cheap H1B replacement are more than just scattered anecdotes.

    60 percent plus give border security as a top priority? Looks like 2/3 of the people will be quite disappointed with the bill.

    No wonder the rush is on to make it a law before we know what's happening. There's been a bit too much of that in the last few years.

    June 18, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  11. NY dude

    Surprising how low on information most Americans seem to be. They actually believe:
    There are only 11mn illegals
    They will actually pay back taxes!
    The fine is substantial.
    They will learn English

    In REALITY, there will be 20-25mn illegals, that will grow to minimum 80mn in 15 years through family sponsorship,
    they aren't going to pay back taxes when their cash earnings can never be proven, fine is 2,000 which is payable interest free over 10 years and many cases can be waived, English means just enrolling in an English language class, even if it lasts just one day.

    If AMERICANS KNEW the fine print, 95% would be against it.

    June 18, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  12. ya rights

    Why the Dems are pushing this bill that no one wants or needs other then the illegals and big corp that thrives off of their cheapend labor? I don't know but they should really get out of DC and go out and LISTEN to the people and not the big money or La Raza on this issue.

    Hey you jokers in DC come out and speak to your people as you are supposed to working for the people and not the MONEY! Time for major reform in DC, campaign and lobbiest, as set of real world working hours they give you time to meet your people but then back to DC working for us.

    No more wars, fact finding missions, billions of our dollars being used to help those whom intend to harm us. War terror and war on drugs money is wasting trillions and killing many whom have nothing to do with either.

    Time to be a country of peace and wisdom.

    June 18, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  13. Evelyn

    Increased border security and workplace enforcement.There is not enough jobs being created to even consider keeping the illegals here.They should never placed ahead of those who are trying to come to America legally.It is time they learn America has laws and they cannot be free to pick and choose which laws they will obey.

    June 18, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  14. Religious Guy

    Glad to know about the big divide. This bill does not address the "legal" immigrants who have come here on legal work visa and have been waiting for Green Card for more than 5 years as of now and have to still wait for Green Card for another 10 years. But Bill will provide illegals "undocumented" immigrants path to citizenship in 13 years or so. So those who follow law will have to wait for 20 years at a minimum to get citizenship while those who do not follow law will become citizens in nearly half that time. This Bill rewards illegals and penalizes those who have been and will continue to follow law. It seems those who support the Bill want more people who break law to be citizens of this great country.

    June 18, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  15. a 1 time proud American

    Obama traded a Campaign Promise for Amnesty for 11 Million "Illegals" Do we now have to press # 1 for people here to understand it in English what "ILLEGAL" really means?
    You Don't AWARD someone a Citizenship for sneaking into this country, you apply for it as millions has before them.
    There is a safety health net behind that, to protect this nation and people from diseases that have been eradicated and unknown diseases that have not made it here yet.
    Congress in 1986 came up with the Idea that this, for one time only!, would take care of it, give Amnesty to more than 3 Million Illegal Aliens that crossed the border back then. And now Obama wants to do it for another 11 Million more. It's amazing how CNN, OBAMA, or any other news agencys has failed AGAIN to inform the public to bring this past back up. So now our country, when it happens, will have have given ("South of the Border over 14 Million Amnesty/Free Citizenship) which sucks when everybody else in the world has STILL has to apply the regular way or if not they will be deported, Why? Because Obama did not make a campaign Promise to that ethnic group.
    Never has a candidate in U.S. History has done that, never. Look it up! Obama, the worker for Non-Americans than Americans and has a proven record.
    No to Immigration law. The law has been broken, no rights allotted. Obama knew he did not have the majority of the votes and could not win his 2nd term from the regular American people. But Obama did go on RECORD and say to the Latinos and say( In About way, look it up) "Without you, I've would have never been Re-elected President.
    So everybody else that voted for Obama, he didn't thank you that day, specifically that group!

    June 18, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  16. Nomi

    These poor immigrants need legal status I am tired of seeing white people take over at least latin people work they dont stay on their butt

    June 18, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  17. frank

    obama was a mistake from the start he has done nothing to help the american people all he cares about are people that aren't americans.

    June 18, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. GoofyfootFromCharlotte

    Well we all know younger Americans have been indoctrinated in our public schools and have no free thought process.

    June 18, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  19. sosideirish

    Two things: First, they are NOT immigrants; they are ILLEGAL ALIENS. Second, there are far more than 11 million of these parasites, and we're not interested in the Democratic voting bloc. Send them home, and let them apply for LEGAL IMMIGRATION like has been done for generations. Just because they're here doesn't make them special (or above the laws)!

    June 18, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  20. ney

    Most of these people want to work. Being so, the government shoul just provide papers to aloud them to work. Renewal every 5-10 years. With no criminal record. it is in the interest of Politicians to give them the power to vote. Border walls were non existant back in the 20,s 30,s 40,s people went back and for. It sad that Mexico is so currupt, that dreams and lives of its people are drawn. That is why you see armies of young men working on drug cartels. As well as the option to leave the county and work in the USA. Most if not all are happy to live in Mexico, but the young have no oportunities. Politicians in power and former presidents (except Zedillo and Fox) take all the money , the very powerfull leave the country in penury each time a new president gets elected.

    June 18, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  21. Larry

    We do not need immigration reform. We need enforcement of the existing laws and one additional law, which is a national e-verify program. Our government has failed us. With between 12 and 20 million illegal immigrants in our country, our government has allowed enough people to enter and remain in our country to FULLY populate the 9 (12 million) and 12 (20 million) least populace states of our nation. Since 2001, illegal immigrants, through DUI or direct murder have killed more American citizens than died in the attacks on 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – combined. Now, we have elected officials willing to do just about anything to reward them with allowing them to remain.

    June 18, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  22. myway

    An immigration bill should be about immigration, not how to lock down the country. That would be an anti immigration bill. If the US had fair and easy to navigate immigration laws border security would become a lesser issue. One of the obstacles no one talks about are special interests, particularly lawyer lobbiesrepresenting clients who make a good living on immigrants. They want to make sure immigration laws remain complicated enough so they'll be needed. After all, 80% of members of congress are lawyers by trade with a revolving door providing lawyer lobbies easy access to law makers.

    June 18, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  23. JJ236

    It is not about immigration. IT IS about granting amnesty to the criminal illegal invaders. mexicans dont want citizenship, they want handouts as they can get them. These people had no regard for the current laws yet the politicians keep touting the 13 year path. Baloney, they wont assimilate...hasn't happened yet and wont in the future.

    June 18, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  24. docmagnus

    Too bad the older among us don't understand how important that broader legal wage base will be to sustaining Social Security and Medicare.

    June 18, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  25. CP in Tampa, FL

    This bill already contains BILLIONS of additional money for border security. Also, Obama has already deported more illegal immigrants than George W. Bush did in his entire presidency. I fully support immigration reform and this bill is a good start. Our country was built by immigrants and legal immigration helps our economy. With that said, I really cannot see the House of Representatives passing an immigration bill that includes a path to citizenship.

    June 18, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
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