February 6th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
6 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. rc

    I would think in matters like this national polling should be trumped by those who deal with the issue day to day. Let's take a poll of those who live in Arizona, Texas and other border states. If they are for citizenship so be it. On the other hand, if they think border security is more important than I'm okay with that too. Seems unfair someone removed from the problem should have as much sway as someone who lives with it intimately. This poll would be like asking people in Rhode Island if gambling should be legal in Las Vegas.

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

    CNN is an incredibly biased "news" organization. Anyone who can't see that is in fantasy land. "Overwhelmingly" LOL! Also, this is an International poll? Are you serious? Come on CNN, please stop already.

    February 6, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Deb

    Quoting directly from your own (CNN) small print, "CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service." I confess that you have actually confused me, for directly above the post I posted just three minutes ago is this, "Your comment is awaiting moderation." Hum, not pre-screened you say? Rubbish!

    February 6, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. M Gonzales

    I call foul, something is not right with this poll. Was it a nationwide poll talking to people in the city and out in the coutry or was it in select areas?

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

    There should never be a pathway to citizenship for illegals. A pathway to legal residency under certain conditions, yes. But never citizenship and a right to vote.

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

    Did they take their poll in the barrios of east Los Angeles and along the border? Whatever it takes to get the "slant" they wanted to fit their agenda.

    February 6, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Polymathicguy

    I don't know who you polled, but your results are pitifully inaccurate.

    February 6, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Lori

    What?????!! I don't believe this. Certainly no one I know thinks this way. Without improving border control we are just encouraging more illegal immigration. We are giving our country away.

    February 6, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Jesus

    Isn't the USA 54% Latino now?

    February 6, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. RickyBobby

    @eric. That's because they came here illegally. Why should they automatically become a citizen just because they were born here, when their parents came here illegally? I agree, some do come and work hard, however, the legal way should be followed first.

    February 6, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Joe Schmoe

    First of all, the poll does not appear to have been international. Instead, it was conducted by ORC International.

    Regardless of that, the article clearly inflates the poll results – 54% does not equal an "overwhelming majority," *especially* when it has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points! And "just over 4 out of 10" is still pretty darn close to 50% by almost any math I've ever heard of. Biased much, CNN?

    February 6, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. William

    Whenever you don’t like the outcome of a poll try to discredit the poll. It’s always been my contention that whenever you arguing the validity of a poll you’re losing! See the problem is there will never be 100% border security, and we are not going to deport 11 million people. It’s time to grow up people! Getting past this issue will be a boost to the economy (Read any economist and the CBO) There are far bigger crimes than crossing the border. And arguing against a pathway citizenship, because you’re afraid people will vote against your part is pretty un American.

    February 6, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Gray

    A poll lead instigated and executed by the communist news network/ORC isn't worth the wad full of toilet paper you wipe a diarrhea-laden rectum with.

    February 6, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. sly

    Progress on another important issue.
    We've solved the Health Care meltdown, where 50 million Americans were banned from getting health care.
    We've solved the federal discrimination againest groups of Americans.
    Now, we'll provide a sensible solution to a big issue – immigration.

    Americans, these are good times, and getting better.

    February 6, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. dude94580

    I figure this poll skews towards Democrats. How much is skews is the real question.

    February 6, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Uh No

    This sounds a lot like the 91% of Americans are for control poll. Cnn likes to invent results.

    February 6, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  17. vbscript2

    In other news, CNN's survey sample is designed to be representative of the population of the average Southwest Texas border town...

    February 6, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. Paul

    Republicans will "slow walk" immigration reform because they are scared of their tea party base for the 2014 elections. After that, needing to move more to the middle for the 2016 presidential election, they will move on immigration.

    February 6, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. Name victoria

    I'd sure like to know who & where these polls are taken.....I personally wonder why me or anyone I know has never been polled. In my conversations with family, friends and co workers their opinions on this subject sure don't sound like the polls taken here.

    February 6, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. American Worker

    Border security is important, but it cannot completely close the porous borders.
    It's a plight similar to Prohibition and Drug Interdiction. It creates a deadly underground market.

    What must be done is law enforcement against those who are found here illegally. This Presidency and previous ones have deliberately subverted efforts to enforce laws and regulations that discourage illegal migration. No existing or new law or regulation is any good when enforcement is blocked or neglected.

    February 6, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. Evelyn Mills

    i don't know where CNN poll takers are getting their numbers but they must be polling Obama fans. Common sense says the border must be more secure and workplace enforcement such as E-Verify with harsh penalties for employers who hire illegals and must be enforced.No reform should be considered until our government they are able and willing to enforce such a law.Why are we even considering bringing 30 million more workers in the next 10 years when we are failing to create enough jobs for the American.people? Why reward that have broken our laws with citizenship.That is like inviting a thief that broke into our home and stole from us to dinner.

    February 6, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. GOP Sucks

    Obviously, any poll that doesn't match what I see in my neighborhood must be a lie.

    February 6, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  23. Fred

    CNN: I would not call 54% "overwhelmingly" as referred to the first sentence of the article. It would be interesting to see the results of the poll by state. You will find that in states like AZ, TX, FL, and CA that the huge expense of illegal immigrations – through crime, public hospital use, education expenses, etc. – would not be in favor of reducing the focus on border security to stem further illegal immigration.

    February 6, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  24. Buchanan

    There should be a path back to Mexixo

    February 6, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. ozzy3_97

    This is a "Lie" and it doesn't represent the people of America. It represent the government and corporations of America...JMO..:(

    February 6, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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