February 6th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
7 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. PtBarnumBoy

    I don't believe 54% of the legal population believes it's okay to reward illegal behavior.

    February 6, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. tripletmom04

    You cannot trust the Gallup polls! They usually only poll about 500 people, although this time they did poll about a thousand. How does that represent millions of people? And although it says it's across the country who were actually polled and where? Everyone I've spoke to across the country is totally against giving illegals amnesty! You cannot trust Gallop polls. They could do the same poll the next day "across the country" with only a thousand people and get a different outcome. People who live in the border states are totally against it and the rest have no clue what the others are going through so on paper it just sounds nice to legalize these people. No way!

    February 6, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Steve

    "Internationals" have no say on American national interests.

    February 6, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  4. eric

    How about a pathway to PERMANENT RESIDENCY rather than citizenship. There already is a pathway to citizenship.
    It is wrong to deport children who were brought here illegally, it is wrong to deport good people who work hard. How about the US GOV sets the precedent that people brought here illegally before a certain point have the ability to earn a pathway to residency, and people brought after a certain point have no such pathway.
    The reason people are pushing for citizenship is because they recognize that Latinos are a growing voting demographic. Essentially, the citizenship initiative just seeks to exploit them.
    Permanent residency is a much better solution which will likely go over well in both sides of the aisle. You are "punished" for being illegal by not being allowed to be citizen.

    How about that?

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

    There's always been a pathway to citizenship. It's called legal immigration. And those who have been following the law deserve to be treated first. When is it ever right to reward people who cut in line and steal..yes STEAL from public tax supported services.

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

    Come here legally or stay out, wait your turn in line. It's our country, we can place any stipulations we want on citizenship.

    February 6, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. tat

    Who the heck are they asking????

    February 6, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Jon

    GOP is controlled by the Teatards, thats the reason plain and simple.

    February 6, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. Terry

    What a giant cowpie, border security is of utmost importance.

    February 6, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. MaryLou Michelin

    Give me a break- I don't know one person, Hispanic or any other that thinks the Illegals should get a path to citizenship-they need to get their immunizations – the out break of small pox and even polio is epidemic- they have tracking systems telling where the police are so they don't get stopped in traffic- we pay for all their accidents- they laugh at us-–

    February 6, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. holam

    I don't believe this/

    February 6, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Deb

    Sorry, I don't believe this for a split second. Far too many previous polls nix this one hands down. Daily publications, i.e., The Hill, Newsmax, etc. tell completely different stories. Lets not even talk about "discussions" with just about anyone. Without sounding like a "tea-bagger," a "republican," a "bigot," I would like to say that obviously CNN is about on par with MSNBC, and is doing nothing by parroting the talking points released daily from the WH.

    February 6, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. tillie1

    Strange that my comment did not make it. Won't bother to post it again.

    February 6, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. JosephV

    The 54% of the votes on this rediculous poll obviously don't understand the consequences of allowing Illegal immigrants, who break our laws by being, amnesty. They care not for our laws, or our healthcare system. They are costing the US Citizens BILLIONS of dollars a year. I don't think we should reward criminals. They have children and expect us to support them, they are not responsible and cannot be trusted.

    February 6, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Jeffrey B

    What a farce! Other than someone here illegally, I have never personally met a single person that supports rewarding illegal behavior.

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

    So 54% of the illegals the CNN polled want a pathway to citizenship. CNN polls are almost always lame and not at all representative of a cross-section of the country. What we need is:
    1) secure the borders,
    2) enforce existing federal immigration laws
    3) stop opposing border state efforts to secure their borders
    Then we can discuss if there is a need for any further immigration "reform". Amnesty by that name or any other is not an option.

    February 6, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. Walter

    Oh CNN your editors need to go back to 5th grade and learn the meaning of "overwhelmingly". 54% is barely a majority, let alone overwhelming. It doesn't matter, as it thankfully is not going to happen this year.

    February 6, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Kay

    **Only hippie mexican liberals living in San Francisco were included in this poll.

    February 6, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. AngelicaS

    B.S. Americans across the political spectrum (including this Democrat) demand that our immigration laws be enforced– ILLEGALS SHOULD BE DEPORTED! DO YOUR JOB ELECTED LEADERS!

    February 6, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. RickyBobby

    There is already a path to citizenship. Just all of folks that are being discussed went around the legal process!

    February 6, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. LOYALRIGHT

    International Survey? That must be the 54% of idiots that won't work and voted Democrat.

    February 6, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. Van Krunk

    International poll, perhaps taken in Mexico?

    February 6, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. David

    very simple solution.....just put poll on the CNN website with voting buttons....oh, but that would be a statistically invalid poll. It's pretty bad when the media try to force their agenda on you with bs polls...and then give it "breaking news" status...*yawn*...back to sleep

    February 6, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. zsadist

    I would like to know who they are polling too, probably the illegals who want to stay here.

    February 6, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. tet1953

    I consider myself a liberal, and I sure as hell don't favor a path to citizenship at all, let alone above border security.

    February 6, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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