February 6th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
9 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. Jacantha boies

    Hogwash! Lies, damn lies and statistics. Certainly CNN must have more competent people to do polling

    February 6, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. jackwjames

    Your poll is faulty. I have asked almost everyone I know, friend and foe, and overwhelmingly they are against allowing illegal immigrants citizenship. The very name 'illegal immigrants' is a clue to anyone with one eye and half-sense. Illegal means illegal....against the law. It's Dewey Defeats Truman all over again....you asked the people knowing what their answers would be beforehand.

    February 6, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. steve

    Why does CNN need an international pole to decide what happen in the United States,this is just more liberal bias against the people of this country.

    February 6, 2014 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. Sigmada

    Where can we see the actual poll. I understand the results if it was a two part question that talks both about border security and returning illegals in the same question. Living in Texas and other border states, many of us have seen the impact and cost associated with it. Tried to find the survey if they asked about the impact on unemployment. Too many questions in my mind to be influenced yet.

    February 6, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Bob Murray

    What public are they polling? I'd say this is to say the least a questionable attempt at BSing that public they allegedly queried.

    February 6, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  6. Charles

    The overwhelmimg majority? Americans are not as stupid as being for legalization of people that really try to invade America, not immigrate, pushed by their own corrupted governments. Next poll would say overwhelming majority are for the Pacific Trade Agreement, very much like the China Trade and Nafta pushed by Willy. Legalization is amnesty. No country in the world is allowed to do the same in Mexico, LA or East Asian countries. Americans cannot buy property on beaches or close to the border.

    February 6, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. Namerene

    nobody called me, put up an electic fence!

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  8. Bill

    that is just BS, they all should be sent home. time to grow a pair and get them out here.

    February 6, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  9. penguin

    All you anti path to citizenship people have forgotten that when are forefathers came over here by the boatload (literally) they were processed in immediately. People are here illegally now because the legal process unweildy and simply unworkable

    February 6, 2014 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  10. john rosen

    The left will pull out all the stops to get votes. They don't care about existing laws; all they want is to be on the right side for 10,000,000+ votes

    February 6, 2014 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  11. Barb304

    I have never heard a bigger load of BS in my life and I'm 68 yrs. old!!! No patriotic American would ever favor legalizing the very people who have invaded their home. Whoever conducted this poll must have been careful to only interview the invaders themselves!!! Hey you pollsters, did those you talk to even speak English? Jeez!

    February 6, 2014 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  12. singer23

    Where was this poll conducted, Mexico?

    February 6, 2014 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. Surferpup

    An appropriate response of a thoughtful, informed U.S. Citizen would be "Golly, a lot of the people who responded to this poll do not share my opinion."

    The neanderthal response of some rather knee-jerk right-wing, proud to me 'merican Bubba's is what I am reading above.

    Oh, and Romney is well ahead in the polls, he will for sure win this election night.... wait.

    Grow a pair, go to school, learn something and quit posting here.

    February 6, 2014 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  14. Not Chicken Little

    CNN is liberal. Liberals lie. They also believe the end justifies the means, and this poll is just one way CNN is trying to further their leftist/socialist agenda which will destroy our country.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  15. Red

    You do realize the headline says pathway to citizenship but the story talks about legal residence. Quit being misleading and report the truth with the appropriate headline. BTW, polling east LA doesn't count.

    February 6, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  16. rosethornne

    Legal residence, yes definitely, unless they are felons.

    Citizenship.... not so much. Except people brought here as children.

    Adults who came here illegally should not be rewarded with citizenship.

    February 6, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  17. Hunter

    It's due to the cabinet members Obama has some of them are related to top officials with CNN AND MSNBC it's why I don't watch cnn anymore and probably has a lot to do with Fox News being #1 in news so keep on with the fake news and polls you sink your own ship

    February 6, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  18. Name

    Just what the USA needs, with 25 million out of work another 11 million legalized to work. With us already spending $346 billion a year(state & Fed) on illegal aliens give them more welfare, with 71% of illegals still on government assistance after 10 years bring more in. We can always cut the veterans again.
    Yes, those rightwingnuts just don't know how to impoverish a nation.

    February 6, 2014 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. Darla44

    More pollpaganda from the state media.

    February 6, 2014 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  20. Jeff Morhaus

    There is no way this poll is accurate. We need to once and for all secure the border and then look at possibly some kind of work status program. There is no way if you not supposed to be in this country to become a legal citizen.

    February 6, 2014 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Misleading poll. There already is a pathway to citizenship

    February 6, 2014 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  22. embeddeddude

    No Amnesty. We were promised 30 years ago immigration reform then would solve the problem, and Congress and the executive branch lied.

    NO CITIZENSHIP EVER FOR ILLEGALS.

    February 6, 2014 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  23. foxie

    .If you believe this garbage, you probably believe that Benghazi was caused by Muslims taking offense over a film. Who was polled? Was it the construction workers whose jobs were taken by illegals and who cannot attend government sponsored training in that trade because the classes are now taught in Spanish? Was it the teenager who could not get work in a fast food restaurant because he did not speak Spanish like the rest of the crew. Was it the parent of the student who cannot go to college because in-state tuition slots were were given to illegal aliens? Was it the student himself? Was it the many victims of crimes committed by illegal aliens such as rape, murder, robbery, social security number theft? Was it the several sick people who go to hospitals for treatment only to be confronted by a huge waiting room full of illegal aliens and who are told that they cannot be seen by a doctor for four hours or more because the illegal aliens are ahead of him? Was it the people who took umbrage at the attempts to add personalized stanzas to the US national anthem? Was it the folks who are tired of pressing 1 for English? I could go on but I think I have made my point. They unemployed in the US number 90 million. Why should 12 million illegal aliens be given citizenship and add to that number? Why would American citizens open the flood gates and let even more illegals through an open border?

    February 6, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  24. foxie

    By the way those personalized verses were created by Hispanic illegal aliens. Fortunately, there was such a hue and cry by Americans that the effort was dropped.

    February 6, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. belinda

    Fear our ability to vote. Hispanics, are outraged at the GOP, who has promised to do nothing, about Immigration. There will be a huge political price to pay. Young Hispanics, will influence this election. In Texas,state senator, Dan Patrick, is making a fool of himself, by running on an anti immigration ticket and against the Dream act. He, is showing a clear lack of respect for Hispanics, all across the state of Texas. I will be out there registering people, to make sure, that we don't have another Christie at our helm.

    February 6, 2014 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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