February 6th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
11 months ago

CNN Poll: Pathway to citizenship trumps border security

Washington (CNN) - Americans overwhelmingly favor a bill that would give most undocumented immigrants a pathway towards citizenship, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that a majority of the public says that the government's main focus should be legalizing the status of the undocumented rather than border security.

The poll was released Thursday, the same day that House Speaker John Boehner signaled any action on immigration is unlikely this year because House Republicans don't trust President Barack Obama on the issue.

According to the poll, 54% say the top priority for the government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration should be developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants with jobs to eventually become legal U.S. residents. Just over four in ten questioned say the main focus should be developing a plan for stopping the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. and for deporting those already here.

"The Republicans' insistence that border security be the primary focus of U.S. immigration policy may have been a popular stand in 2011, but not necessarily in 2014," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"American attitudes toward undocumented immigrants have changed. Starting in 2012, most Americans have said that the government's focus should be on a plan that would allow those immigrants to become legal U.S. residents. A majority has consistently taken that position since that time - 56% in 2012, 53% in 2013, and 54% in the current poll," added Holland.

The Democratic-controlled Senate last year passed a bipartisan illegal immigration bill that included an eventual pathway towards citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. According to the poll, more than eight in 10 support such a plan. There is little partisan divide, with 88% of Democrats, 81% of independents and 72% of Republicans in agreement.

The Senate bill stalled in the GOP dominated House. Republicans said they preferred to address the matter incrementally rather than in one comprehensive measure.

One idea House Republicans are considering is giving undocumented immigrants legal status to stay in the U.S., but not allow them a pathway towards citizenship. According to the survey, only 35% support such an idea, with just over six in 10 opposed. Again, there was no partisan divide, with two-thirds of Democrats and around six in 10 independents and Republicans opposing such a plan.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from Jan. 31-Feb. 2, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • Polls
soundoff (217 Responses)
  1. simplyput

    Glad to see the people calling CNN out on their lies. Your "international polls" aren't relevent. Get a new owner.

    February 7, 2014 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  2. John Ware

    Thomas, your problem isn't illegal immigration. Your problem is that you are racist. Attacking a specific country show how trashy you are and lhow ucky you were of being born in US. Go educate yourself and pour some bleach on your brain. Regards :)

    February 7, 2014 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  3. Marti

    The usual poll begins with "If borders are secured, Visas actually enforced, and E-Verify mandatory, then would you support legalization of those who entered illegally?"

    Even, then most of us would now say "No" because we've been promised enforcement before, in exchange for legalization. Never has enforcement materialized as promised or even currently mandated by law.

    I too would like to know the polling population, margin of error, and to see the questions asked.

    February 7, 2014 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  4. Truthful1

    Great...Paul Steinhouser, and the CNN Staff polled themselves to come up more Liberal Propaganda in their lame attempt to make our Southern Border Defenseless against Mexican Thugs cross the Border to attack Mexican-Americans in Texas, Arizona, and California, while we pay for Illegal Aliens to live here in the US while Americans, including Legal Hispanic-American Residents, and Citizens suffer. As usual, CNN Polls are not relivant.

    February 7, 2014 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  5. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    HILARIOUS watching the Guns Over People tea potty walk the plank toward November. Watch their heads explode in 5,4,3,2,1.

    February 7, 2014 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  6. CarlWstCoast

    How to solve the problem: count the number of illegals in the country, figure 6 people per acre, give them all citizenship, and move the border accordingly. Mexicans want to leave there to come here, we create more here to be had. Eventually, either a state of equilibrium will be reached, or the entirety of Mexico will be no more. For those thinking this may be an act of war, I would counter that so is illegally invading a country, as has obviously been done to us. Heck, maybe we do this on the 5th of May, and throw in cinco de mayo as a new federal holiday... :-)

    February 7, 2014 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  7. Scott

    The results of this poll are bogus. Cnn must have called only illegal aliens for the "poll". I sure didn't get a call from CNN.

    February 7, 2014 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  8. berniecat@outlook.com

    republicans are fascist and liars and misspeak and use Machiavelli speak and support oligarchy governments and are true believers in corporatist plutocracy ! now does any thing about a gop make you want to give support to their agenda ?

    February 7, 2014 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  9. Ben harry

    100% of the hard working Americans are not in favor of amnesty...

    Explain to me again how this will help with the unemployment rate in this country???

    February 7, 2014 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  10. @RI_Roger

    CNN is losing journalistic credibility faster than a falling lead balloon. It should also stay away from the polling business as it appears the results may not always be what is actually in the hearts of most Americans. Polls can be shaped by the way a question is framed, The target audience comprised to answer the questions and the region(s) focused on. For example if the random sample is taken from area codes located in highly liberal areas of the country (NY, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco and Honolulu... this type of survey would garner the results without CNN appearing to be manipulative.

    Show us your Questions and sampling methodology.

    February 7, 2014 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  11. TomInRochNY

    The GOP, on the wrong side of history yet again.

    February 7, 2014 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  12. Tony Scola

    I agree with many This is BS Nobody ask me or my family. You are her illegally. you committed a crime. I am sick and tired of using my tax dollars to pay for illegal immigrants to live better than me..

    February 7, 2014 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  13. Pat Thomas

    People need to note that the News Stations are mostly democrat and will say anything that will help them get votes for the next alection so Obama doesn't look so bad

    February 7, 2014 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  14. Gurgyl

    Deport all Law breakers–including that India Ambassador, Devyani kapargadidha too.

    February 7, 2014 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  15. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Just another GOP shallow attempt at voter obstruction that everybody can see through. Send the GOP packing in November FOR GOOD!!!!!!!!!!

    February 7, 2014 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  16. S

    Been there, done that! It FAILED the last time and will FAIL this time! ANY form of amnesty for these LAW BREAKERS is a SLAP IN THE FACE to all those who are either citizens, LEGAL residents or wishing to come to the U.S. LEGALLY! My guess is that the only people they polled were ILLEGALS and those morons stupid enough to hire them!

    February 7, 2014 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  17. countingdown

    Shelbie
    CNN, how much money does it cost the taxpayers to keep one immigrant out of the country versus giving them citizenship?

    Excellent question.

    February 7, 2014 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
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