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. Kenneth Holder

    I agree. No one should come here illegally! We stole this country fair & square! Texas, we stole from Mexico. Their loss! The rest of the country we stole from a host of people that hadn't figured out how small pox is transmitted. How dare they!!

    February 6, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  2. Jaec

    Illegal immigrants? Native Americans used to to call them White People.

    February 6, 2014 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  3. gthog61

    Can you say "push poll"?
    WHat a loda, no wonder nobody watches you for "news" any more.

    February 6, 2014 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  4. American Citizen in Kentucky

    How many illegal aliens voted in this poll? I don't believe all voters were American citizens. The illegal aliens are not hiding in the "shadows", they are parading in the streets carrying Mexican flags and hanging American flags upside down. Demanding our government to make them legal. America does not separate families, they chose to do it themselves when they left their families in their homeland. They came to America for "greed", the came for the money!

    February 6, 2014 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  5. Name

    I find this poll hard to believe

    February 6, 2014 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  6. John doe

    This 'poll' is a complete fabrication/propaganda – the vast majority of Americans vehemently oppose illegal immigration.

    February 6, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. Jeffro

    These numbers are totally inaccurate. I think far more people are against 'pathways to citizenship' than is constantly being reported. I think more people are against allowing an influx of immigrants than is reported. I just can't believe these numbers.

    I wish just once that somebody would address the ecological aspects of continually allowing outsiders into our country. As a result of rapid population icreases, we are continually depleting our resources, we continually remove good farmland, we are using more and more space for landfills, we are experiencing worse and worse problems with urban and suburban sprawl, we must continually create and use 'factory-farms' to raise animals at a higher and higher rate (food and water limitations), we are having more and more troubles in sustaining our freshwater supplies, and countless other reasons.

    I once read that the entire world population of 7 billion could fit into the state of Texas. However, that land area could not provide sustainable resources for that many people. The same basic ideas apply to our country (or any country). Not once have I seen anybody speak from in ecological context of carrying capacity.

    February 6, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  8. Jerry

    CNN very good article and good survey. I fully support it. I am in favor of Immigration reform. I will donate money to Democratic candidates. Also, hope Hillary runs for the president.

    February 6, 2014 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  9. American Citizen in Kentucky

    Birthright citizenship should be clarified that one parent must be a U.S. citizen. Mexico's citizenship laws state that all children born to Mexican citizens are automatically citizens of Mexico, no matter what country they are born in. That places those children are under the jurisdiction of Mexico where ever they are born.

    February 6, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  10. John Campbell

    Where did they do this poll? Mexico City?

    February 6, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  11. cleareye1

    Cooked up by Christie? Sounds devious enough.

    February 6, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. Congleton

    The poll was conducted along the U.S.-Mexican border.
    Duh

    February 6, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  13. That's Whack

    Agreed this poll is biased. No one I know legitimately supports path to citizenship, including the (legal) immigrants here in NYC. Only those harboring their illegal relatives, or those hiring them for slave wages are pro citizenship.

    February 6, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. des111168

    Uh, no. I cal BS on this. Every other major poll taken has it it exactly the opposite. This smells, CNN.

    February 6, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  15. Danlien

    I completely disagree and I think this poll may have been contrived. Our borders need to be secure yesterday, but more importantly, the biometrics and other measures need to be put into place to stop any more illegal immigration from happening in the future, because what most people don't know is illegal immigrants come from every corner of the world. Also, what do you think would happen if I illegally immigrated to Mexico? Or China? Or pretty much every other country in the world? They would kick me out!

    February 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  16. Mickie

    I immigrated to this country LEGALLY!!! My family worked hard & abided by ALL laws. I appreciate what America has done for me.... But.... what part of ILLEGAL are we not understanding..... LEGALS ONLY!!!

    February 6, 2014 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  17. Vern Arndt

    What is the source of the survey? This is BS! I don't believe these results. Illegal aliens and their offspring don't deserve any benefits as far as I'm concerned. We can't support ourselves and the world. Too many do-gooders and not enough workers. Where does it end? Politicians are too busy taking care of themselves to get this right. SECURE the border first. Post the military on the border. Build a China Wall and man it. Think of this effort and boon to the economy along the hole southern border. CCC effort reborn.

    February 6, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  18. M. Ozgoren

    Something like this only true on CNN. It has always been 3 to 1 against amnesty since this issue arose.

    February 6, 2014 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  19. Steve Harrison

    Sorry, but i would have to bring into question the survey sample for this poll. There is no way an "overwhelming" majority of Americans favor making illegal immigrants legal, over increasing border security. Total BS on the part of this poll. The results may be true, but I feel the sample pool was selected rather than random so as to insure a poll that supports the issue they want supported. Keep politics out of my news please and report the true facts.

    February 6, 2014 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  20. Jesse

    Funny those are the same numbers that gave us "90% of the country wants more gun control"

    February 6, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  21. mazen

    well i am immigrant but that not meaning i have to be sympathize with this issue ,, usa owe to the immigration for its prosperity ,, but which groups of immigrants ? ok the people who came from Europe holding thier values and experiences ,, and the black american who contributed in the construction of this country what about new immigrants ? sorry i am not racist or sick mind ,, but i am realist ,, i think usa should pay attention more for its people ,.,,, and not reward the illegal immigration ,,, please think more about USA and how to keep its supremacy ,, the dream i was dreaming since i was a boy evaporated

    February 6, 2014 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  22. Crazy

    BS...which part of the country are you considering "most" Americans? From where I am, no one wants to just give illegal aliens a free pass for breaking the law! Get real, fake poll!

    February 6, 2014 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  23. Lanslot

    HAHAHAHA! They must have went to the mexican side of the border to do this poll! Now you know why they are failing, they cant even rig a poll without the country laughing at it!

    February 6, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  24. Big Jilm

    I was just wondering where I'd be able to buy some oranges on the freeway. Thanks Obama!

    February 6, 2014 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  25. J Festa

    I for one don't believe your so-called poll is a true reflection of the views of the American people in regard to illegal immigration. Moreover, when did we Americans vote to become Mexico?

    February 7, 2014 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
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