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. Nicky

    Nonsense – just more misinformation and drivel from CNN.

    February 6, 2014 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  2. kk

    This is out of control. who are they polling? the families of the illegals?? the children?? I got no email or letter asking my opinion. who do you have to be to be asked about what we feel is right for Americans??

    February 6, 2014 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. American

    Where was this poll taken – New Mexico?

    February 6, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. kara

    No way is this poll accurate. 30 million people taking jobs and benefits is not good for America.

    February 6, 2014 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  5. Sharon

    I moved to the States in February 2000 on a work visa. I applied for a Green Card on the brothers and sisters list as my brother is a US Citizen. My application was approved in August 2005. My job ended on 1st January 2010. I stayed for a further 18 months praying my Green Card would come through. It didn't and I had to sell my condo and give up my friends and family and return to the UK, something I never thought would happen. It's now February 2014 and I am still waiting for my Green Card. How can the American government think it would be fair to give Citizenship to illegal immigrants when I did it the right way and I lost everything.

    February 6, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  6. jfhdsiu

    A "poll" from CNN, by CNN, for CNN........... If they expect me to believe this poll, they ARE dumber than they thought I was". I don't know a SINGLE soul that agrees with this sham.

    February 6, 2014 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  7. Madame deFarge

    Utter BS. Apparently they surveyed Progs and illegal aliens. The response to the reported compliance of Boehner, Cantor, McCain and gang is just the opposite. What they came up with is a copy of what the Gang of Eight wanted. That was shot down last year and no one has changed their minds today. Boehner is making noises about putting it off until next year because of the phone calls and threats to have him removed. Again, we are not deceived and he has to be thrown out.

    February 6, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. yippeeskip

    Where was this poll taken...San Diego???

    February 6, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  9. Shills

    WHO do you know ever has been polled? Yep! This is typical propaganda (that usually works) that media and other powers use to justify what they do. I NEVER have met one person polled on anything yet and I've lived in many states and cities.

    February 6, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  10. Big Joe

    In what world is 54% an "overwhelming majority????" With a plus/minus 3% for statistical error, it's pretty much a dead heat.

    Either you're in the country legally or illegally. You want to get legal, go back to your country of legal residence and make an application to enter the country legally.

    February 6, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. Judy

    I'm not surprised by this OUTRIGHT LIE! Is your call list the liberal democrat voting list? Give me a break!

    February 6, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  12. Debbie

    "And a CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that a majority of the public says" The keyword here is "INTERNATIONAL"

    February 6, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  13. Just

    Who was polled? Non English speaking "Americans" maybe?

    February 6, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  14. MIKE SMITH

    This is whyt I can't get a good payingh job, they work for low wages get hired and that's that, also first words out of an employers mouth is "Do you speak spanish". The only ones who want
    them here are the business that pay the low wage, unions so they can get more dues, the church so they can get more
    Guv. money to take care of them! I go to jail for drinking a beer in public, but someone who is here illegal gets to walk
    because you can't even ask for their ID because that's discriminating!

    February 6, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  15. Lyn Patricia

    Why, somehow don't I believe this? Oh, because it's a CNN poll.

    February 6, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  16. W. Thomas

    Whenever a poll is taken, the questions are asked or phrased so the poll comes out the way whomever commitioned the poll wants it to show. I don't believe this poll at all, especially the part that Americans want illegals to have a pathway to citizenship over the border security issue. Just think, as soon as this would start, you would have politicians demanding they also receive healthcare and every benefit a citizen has. Governments gain control of the population by causing people to become poor (income redistribution) and an uneducated population (department of education). Unless individuals start to stand up – dems and rebs, the American public will find itself slaves to the Washington elite.

    February 6, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  17. Wake up People!

    If only the Native Americans had treated the pale faces that invaded their country in the same way. Maybe a bunch of inbred hicks wouldn't think their lack of melanin made them special and superior.

    February 6, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  18. johnfreyan

    This comment section is a good evidence that we need to make basic statistics a required course in high school. What a bunch of uninformed idiots who delusionally think they're informed after reading some Tantonite propaganda.

    February 6, 2014 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. Tammy Pursell

    In college they tell you how polls and data can be easily manipulated to suit whatever need you have. I suspect this poll was collected in San Antonio or perhaps Mexifornia. It definitely was not taken in Oklahoma where we are overrun with illegals draining our economy. You don't see a female of ovulating age that is not pregnant. Our state is the main pipeline for the MEXICAN cartels. I'm assuming we are hub to spread their drugs to the entire US. Who exactly is protecting us? NOT OUR Government. I don't have a problem with people of any race APPLYING for citizenship to our country. We have to follow the rules, meanwhile we get crashed into by illegals that don't carry car insurance or legal tags. Why follow any of our laws if we ignore the first one they break when they jump the river. They are laughing at us and saying get over it...we are here. My neighborhood is single lane traffic only especially at night, because they fill up both sides of the street with their extremely nice vehicles. Oklahomans know if some is driving a really nice car, they aren't American. Hard working American's can't afford an awesome car because we don't have 20 people living in a SINGLE FAMILY house!!! Hit a nerve CNN!!! Enough said...

    February 6, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  20. Bill B

    Who exactly are these Americans that are being surveyed? Did they need to be US citizens in order to participate?? I have yet to see a CNN poll that I believed!

    February 6, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  21. Al May

    Albert Einstein, I.M.Pei, Ang Lee, Madeline Albright, John Muir, Joseph Pulitzer, Felix Frankfurter, Martina Navratilova, Irving Berlin, How in the world did these folks, from foreign countries, manage to become U.S. Citizens with out a 'Pathway to Citizenship'?!?!?!?! Oh! Wait! We Had one!!!!! And guess what....we STILL DO!!!! Follow it....

    February 6, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  22. aharrygriffith

    A couple of questions:
    Who is ORC international?
    Who and where were the people polled.
    How were the people chosen/selected to be polled?
    What were the exact questions asked?

    February 6, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  23. JoeMama

    NO ONE asked me. NO way is this correct. When you only ask CNN viewers, you get what your company wants to hear. Come on out to the heartland and ask a biker. We will tell you to keep the wetbacks out of the country!

    February 6, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    No.......it does not.......that would be a false statement. When you make that statement, you are lying to the public.......and the stats show that to be a lie, without question.

    February 6, 2014 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  25. Mark Wauben

    This CNN poll is bogus, first of all 54% who "overwhelmingly" want to give illegal aliens citizenship...is hardly overwhelming...and with a margin of error of 3%...its 50-50 at best, CNN is running a scam with the timing of this poll to sway public opinion...Come on CNN cut the liberal media BS...and just report the news for a change.
    We don't care what your political views are just report the news, about all the scandals and laws broken by this administration...do you jobs for a change. I have lost all respect for CNN...what an shame.

    February 6, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
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