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. Whale Driver

    This is totally BS! If you came to America illegally you are breaking the law! Period! End of story! You deserve to be deported, not given citizenship. I have no problem with the people that did it the right way. This is the way to fix this. If you are caught in America illegally, not only will you be deported but you can never become a citizen. The crazy part is that the Hispanic population is getting to be huge! They have huge voting power. They will keep up the pressure to open the flood gates to immigration. IMO once this happens we will have a flood of low income families that will get all the govt assistance (healthcare, food stamps etc.) they need at the expense the middle/upper class. We are marching toward Socialism one day at a time.

    February 6, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    @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.
    -----------
    C'mon everyone, listen to Gray here! His well executed thesis and point for point argument are well beyond reproach. I cannot imagine why people are not taking the extreme Radical Right more seriously. In fact after removing Evolution from the schools let's just take out all the subjects and teach beer-drinking. That will really get the next generation of Americans ahead in this ever-changing world.

    February 6, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. HAPPY JACK

    I echo many of the comments. Where was the poll taken? Nobody called me.

    February 6, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Frank Brady

    The poll is a total lie.

    February 6, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Mia martin

    No one asked me to participate in recent poll! No one here illegally should be given citizenship! Go home and come back legally and apply!

    February 6, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  6. Shelbie

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

    February 6, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Mia martin

    No one should come here illegally! We should enforce our borders and send all illegals home! Let them apply to come here

    February 6, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Galidon

    1010 people out of an approximate population of 317,900,000 would represent roughly 0.00031770997168921043% of the poulation. Wow 3/10,000ths of 1%. That's a groundbreaking poll!

    February 6, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Rudy. N.Y . HUGO Chavez was a better dictator than Barak oboma . He did put his grunts to work ! an sell plenty of oil .an sucured his boarders! thx

    February 6, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Thomas C. Watkins

    This is an outright lie, no way in hell do the majority of legal U.S. citizens favor amnesty for these damned Mexican illegal aliens!

    February 6, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. Chris-E...al

    I think they need m0re p0lls on the border ! the kind you drive in the ground?.. thank you

    February 6, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  12. frank

    We need both.

    February 6, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "countingdown

    Sniffit

    A "filibuster" could prevent a vote however, the vote was taken and the measure defeated. Duh!"
    ===

    OMG. Let me help you here: the "procedural hurdle" CNN referred to in its euphemistic first sentence is called "cloture." This is the procedural vote on whether to end debate and actually vote on the bill. The cloture vote is where the filibuster happens. To achieve "cloture," i.e., end debate and move on to actually voting on the bill itself, it requires 60 votes. If one side organizes to prevent cloture from reaching 60 votes, they have filibustered the bill and prevented it from being voted on.

    The vote on cloture with respect to unemployment insurance was 58 TO END DEBATE. It received a majority of the votes but failed to get 60, so it will NOT actually be voted upon. If they had been actually voting on the bill, 58 votes for it would clearly have passed the bill.

    So yeah, you're wrong and don't know what you're talking about. Hopefully, if you paid attention, you learned a little something.

    February 6, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  14. charaid87

    I suspect that the majority TAKING that poll were illegal aliens, or friends of them! It's like the '85% of American's favor outlawing guns....both are B.S. I think many are fed up with people sneaking into this country....even if only to give birth to a child, so that they can have a rationale to stay here illegally. I have no problem with them applying for admittance, and as long as they are productive citizens, they are allowed to stay. I certainly can understand them wanting the freedoms and opportunities here. Most of us have an immigrant in our family line, but to give people who broke the law in the first place to get into this country be given amnesty and made citizens is not o.k.

    February 6, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Joe

    No , we will not be having the same conversation. CNN will only be in Spanish.

    February 6, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  16. DaveinCincy

    Secure border 1st, then myself and a true majority will support. The CNN number is cr*p....go back to covering Justin Bierber and his Britney esque meltdown....

    February 6, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. Smack Dab

    54% is "overwhelming"? Saying "a little more than half" would have been more truthful, as far as CNN polls go. Now, just because they want to WORK here does NOT mean illegals want to become citizens. I would much rather let them work here seasonally, then LET THEM GO BACK HOME. Most illegals still pine for "their country" back home. Give them work permits after we verify who they are, fingerprints, photo I.D. etc., and let them cross the border back and forth. Stop fooling yourself into thinking they want to be citizens. They just want the money. Also, we would no longer have to educate the children, provide free health services or welfare.

    February 6, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "HUGO Chavez was a better dictator than Barak oboma . He did put his grunts to work ! an sell plenty of oil .an sucured his boarders"

    Did he use seat belts to secure them or just lash them to the mast Odysseus style?

    February 6, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  19. jorge antonio valenzuela

    I agree with 54% of Americans. Giving people a pathway to citizenship is the American way. In 1776 everyone was an immigrant; and obviously America continues to depend on immigrant labor and continues to profit from from them. America should therefore care for and grant these new Americans the same rights that are afforded to everyone else contributing to the greatness of the nation. You have 11 million folks who are willing to pay a fine in order to live free. Allow them to pay that fine, take the tests, and pursue life liberty and happiness.

    February 6, 2014 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    "In fact after removing Evolution from the schools let's just take out all the subjects and teach beer-drinking."

    I'm all for that...as long as it's beer and not cervesa. Derp.

    February 6, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  21. State of Denmark...

    Something's rotten here. CNN made this a breaking news alert and this is what was revealed: "Overwhelmingly" is now and appropriate word to describe a result of 54%. "Slightly over 4 in 10" is a dismal showing and not worthy of consideration. Funny, I always thought slightly more than 4 was 5 and hence, about half. Bottom line, there is something funky with this report and the poll – looks more like a prop piece to promote an agenda. Ugh.

    February 6, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  22. Border Patrol

    The poll only asked illegal aliens questions.

    February 6, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  23. SB

    They obviously didn't poll people here in Arizona. We're OVERRUN with illegals, gangs, crimes, hit-and-runs with uninsured alien drivers, schools being forced to teach "English as a Second Language," La Raza problems, trashed desert areas where they camp out between the borders and our cities, human trafficking, killed livestock (and ranchers), people stomping on the American flag and demanding rights, full prisons and jails, hospitals where you have to wait hours because illegals go there for every little thing because it's 'free'... I agree with others on here who say the POLLS ARE LIES. They must have polled the illegals and not the Americans!

    February 6, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  24. Cali Girl

    Please provide what questions were asked in the poll CNN. THAT will be very telling as to how this poll arrived at such biased statistics. They are simply not true, as found in other less biased polls taken, time after time. It is not telling the whole truth. Baloney.

    February 6, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. countingdown

    Illegal is illegal. PERIOD!
    Unless anyone can provide a valid argument allowing an open border to any person from anywhere at anytime, then uphold the border laws. PERIOD!

    February 6, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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