February 6th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
8 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. Bob

    I really want to know who CNN is polling.

    February 6, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. VJ

    Good for America....

    February 6, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    This poll is insanely biased.

    February 6, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. Joe Brunner

    Probably the same 54% who have little to no job skills and want Unemployment renewed... these illegals are doing the ONLY jobs these washed up boomers could do – and they wonder why they are out of work...
    Flip Burgers
    Fix hotel rooms
    those are your 20 million jobs you need when the unemployment runs out America

    February 6, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  5. statiststumps

    Lol, political ticker. All comments vetted before posting. Nice try, no one believes you and amnesty isn't happening.

    February 6, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Mo

    How is 54% an overwhelming majority? Did they change the meaning of the word overwhelming?

    February 6, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. PJ

    Unfortunately the GOP will never allow this. People who want freedom and civil rights have to realize it is going to take decades for the GOP to come up to where the country is on domestic and social issues. They are focused on what big money tells them to do.

    February 6, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  8. Dusan

    Okay, time to point out a huge flaw here. The poll is international. I am sure if they polled the US, the results would be noticeably different. In other words, the poll is at least in part what folks who don't live in the US think the US should do. A little disturbing that cnn would write such an article based on this type of polling.

    February 6, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. ty

    We already have a path to citizenship, and by being here illegally not only have these individuals made a mockery of it, they've spat in its face as well. Yes, the process may be slow and inefficient, but that is true with everything the government does. If they really want to be Americans, what better way to introduce them to our country than making them deal with the government all off us already have to put up with?

    February 6, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. JEF

    The pole must have been addressed only to illegals.

    February 6, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. Independent

    I didn't get to take the poll, border security FIRST.

    February 6, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. John Illinois

    You do not reward criminals that ILLEGALLY enter a country!!!! You deport them! What is wrong with people......our economy completely stinks yet you want to add more and more people to welfare rolls?!?!?

    February 6, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. regular person

    I call bs. Secure the border then start talking paths to citizenship. If you dont secure the border we will be having the SAME conversation in another 25 yrs. IDIOTS!!!

    February 6, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Blocked_Sender

    This is great, maybe policies encouraging allowing a path to citizenship will finally be enacted for people who can contribute to our society! It could help stop the reverse brain drain.

    February 6, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. Laurie

    I don't know one person who agrees with this. Who did they poll anyway?

    February 6, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. sean

    No kidding...cuz 30 percent of the population is already from Illegals!

    February 6, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. YouAreKidding

    All this shows to me is the moronic state of almost half the nation. We have a path for legal citizenship, it is a law, and people need to abide by it like any other law. The political talking points have convinced people this is a real issue, when in all reality, the issue is the millions of illegal immigrants that are here. You want to come to the US? Fine, do it legally like many generations have before you. You are here and have broken the law? Get out.

    February 6, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. Sonny

    Yeah...where did you conduct the poll..,in San Diego ?

    February 6, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. Reggie53

    CNN is polling all democrats so they can get a high positive response. I am tired of CNN's polls because they mean absolutely nothing to me. We do not need any more illegal immigrants to become citizens. We should be giving the people who are going through the proper channels the first opportunity over these other people. Send them back home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 6, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. Namesteve

    Are you kidding me. Laws still matter, without them America is dead.

    February 6, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. HillClimber

    You want to know what an American Citizen says? Get the aliens off my land. You say a Path To Citizenship trumps border security? Make that path across my borders and back to their own country. Get the illegal aliens off my land!

    February 6, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. drc

    I would say it's a safe bet that the wording of the question was asked so that was the response. Sorry, anyone that says amnesty or the PC words of saying 'pathway to citizenship' without first having a SECURE border needs to get their head examined. They already did an amnesty in 1986 with the promise of a secure border and we see how well that worked out.

    Of course we know Obama doesn't care about approval ratings or polls...well, unless they are in his favor.

    February 6, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. American Citizen

    If the question was asked should unemployed/underemployed Americans get jobs before we give Amnesty to 20 million mostly Hispanic illegal Aliens thus allowing then to join the workforce, the American people would overwhelmingly support jobs for Americans. Black American unemployment is double digits. No Amnesty, Secure the Border.

    February 6, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. jewoodbur

    Just two days ago I read a poll with just the opposite numbers. Even my Democrat Southern Arizona Congressman (with a large number of Hispanics in his district) vehemently opposes amnesty and demands better enforcement of our borders. This is typical CNN bias...

    February 6, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. heywood

    Where did they take this poll? SoCal? lol

    February 6, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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