April 12th, 2010
12:02 PM ET
12 years ago

Should path for citizenship be made easier for illegal immigrants?


 (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) - Two-thirds of Americans don't want to make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, even though a slight majority is sympathetic towards their plight, according to a new poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday indicates that 66 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, with 33 percent disagreeing.

Forty-two percent of Democrats questioned say the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants should be made easier. That number drops to 33 percent for independents and 16 percent for Republican respondents.

"Virtually all major subgroups oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, at least in the abstract," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Specific legislation that puts limits on the ability to gain citizenship has sometimes met with favor in the past if it restricts the number who can apply and penalizes them for staying in the country illegally. But the overall principle remains unpopular."

According to the poll, 52 percent are sympathetic to illegal immigrants and their families, down five points from 2006, with 47 percent unsympathetic, up eight points from four years ago.
"There are minor demographic differences on the sympathy question," says Holland. "For example, women appear slightly more sympathetic than men. But the biggest difference is the partisan breakdown. Two-thirds of Democrats say they sympathize with illegal immigrants, compared to roughly half of Independents and only one in four Republicans."

On Saturday, thousands of people attended rallies in several cities across the country to urge Congress to act quickly on immigration reform. Tens of thousands of people turned out last month for an immigration rally held at the National Mall in Washington. In a video message to that crowd, President Obama vowed he would do "everything in my power" to get a bipartisan deal to overhaul U.S. immigration laws.

Then-President George W. Bush supported a bipartisan effort to overhaul U.S. immigration laws four years ago, proposing to set up a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million people currently in the United States without authorization.

But those measures were criticized as establishing "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, and legislation Bush supported died with a Senate filibuster – one led by members of his own party but joined by more than a dozen Democrats.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted March 19-21, with 1,030 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: CNN poll • Immigration • Popular Posts
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    Dis you ever notice that the right wingnuts who supported the incompetent Bush Regime are the first to call everyone else incompetent if they do not follow the extremist agenda?

    April 12, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Torch

    People, the Dems are not being on the up and up on this one (jeeze...could this be a trend?). They want all illegals amnesty so that they can become Dem Zombies and vote for the Dems, while they make sure they are getting thier share of the redistribution and therefore keeping them poor and stupid, so they will continue to vote for their masters.

    The real question is, will Black America ever come to that conclusion?

    April 12, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. Frank

    The really sad thing is that two-thirds of Americans could not pass the citizenship test if they had to take it. Most likely the same two-thirds that don't want to make it easier for others to become a part of this great country that was formed by immigrants.

    April 12, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |

    If OBAMA pushes this bill like he intends to do he should be impeached. If the Democrats are so crazy to think that the True Americans will stand for this then think again brother. There is some of us, call us fanatics, racist are what you will that will not put up with this. Our forefathers came to this New world in any manner we could but one thing in common we did it lawfully as the land dictated at the time. Be it from Poland , slavery or whereever it was done by citianship policies approval from the governmen not sneaking across the river late at night. Murderers, thiefs, rapists from Mexico come one come all under OBAMA'S Policy as long as you vote Democrat. I used to be one for fifty years. Now I can not stand the thought that I was that Ignorant.

    April 12, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. john

    Annex Mexico!! It will hurt fiscally for a few years but it would be better for the free market to utilize the assets of Mexico than to let the elite in Mexico to continue to explot them for their gain. Right now we are paying for Mexico without any benefit. The oil and minerals in Mexico along with the development that could be accomplished make it a lot more appealing than just to keep paying for the poor. Might be a bit of a struggle to get it done but the only people in Mexico that would fight it really hard would be the ones exploiting the country now.

    April 12, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. 8 Years of “trickle down economics” has only left a wet spot on working America's shoes!

    Anyone have an estimate on how much it would cost to round up 14 million illegals and send them home?

    April 12, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. KLK

    Should path for citizenship be made easier for illegal immigrants? NO!!!

    April 12, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    "Forty-two percent of Democrats questioned say the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants should be made easier."

    I wonder what part of ILLEGAL don't those 42% of democrats understand?

    April 12, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. TBA

    NO, they came here ILLEGALLY, they should go through all the test like anyone else would. They should NOT GET a easy button for the tests and the TEST should be in ENGLISH and no in their NATIVE LANGUAGE. It is not RAISICT to make them take it in English because the fact that the cost to the governement and tax payers to print out several different froms besides English is costing Tax payers MILLIONS each year. PLUS the Consitution is writen in ENGLISH.

    April 12, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. JohnRJ08

    It shouldn't be made "easier" but it should be much more accessible. And it has to start with some form of amnesty. You can't deport 12 million people and you can't allow a situation to continue that drives them into an underground economy where none of them have any investment in this country. What we see now will be the Republican Party attacking anybody who suggests any form of amnesty. What we will NOT see from it is any common sense solution.

    April 12, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Chut Pata

    It would be a shame to reward someone for breaking the law. Illegal immigrants are not immigrants, they are illegal entrants into USA who are breaking the US law every second they are in here illegally.

    There are millions of legal immigrants who are waiting to meet their beloved ones. Instead of improving the law to help those who respect US laws and want ot come in legally, law breakers are to be rewarded. What a shame.

    I demand that more staff be hired in the immigration department to proces immigration applications, so that those who respect US laws can come quickly, instead of being forced to break law.

    April 12, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. Ken in NC

    Here is a hint. "HELL NO"

    April 12, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. define...easier

    Define easier....

    if its a cluster of decades long run arounds and possible deportations to make the attempt I think we should review it.

    if its a matter of just signing a pledge and paying taxes. notsomuch.

    April 12, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. rachel

    No it shouldn't be made easier.

    April 12, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. JustSayNO

    Remember; For every illegal that becomes an American there are additional family members they can petition to come to the U.S. which in turn means more burden on the states to provide social services (hospitals, healthcare, schools, police, etc.) and higher taxes for the rest of us to pay for these services.

    This actually happended to Costa Rica about 20 + years ago when they opened up the border to Nicaraguans. The resulting surge of illegals and their families looking for citizenship became overwhelming for Costa Rica....and today it is a costly mistake they cannot get rid of (not to mention the growing crime rate ever since)

    Don't let this happen to USA. Just Say NO !!

    April 12, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  16. ray

    the people who should be crying out at immigration matters are the real americans, the natives, not the racists right, not the immigrant haters tea party red necks. after all the white people stole this country from the natives, dont ever forget that white people. these immigrants work hard , both lehal and illegal. i never heard of any mexican terrorist who wants to do harm to america, i heard and know about lots of americans white people terrorist. this is all about the white people wants this country all white, maybe we should send all you white people back to europe.

    April 12, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. Sniffit


    i say give them competition with the people who come here legally

    we are a nation of law...........regardless of how the liberals pick and choose right and wrong.....idiots

    April 12, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  18. Brian phoenix

    They are in this country ILLEGALLY. Taking jobs away from LEGAL citizens. Amnesty does not even begin to fly here. I simply do not understand what part of ILLEGAL bleeding heart democrats do not understand.

    April 12, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. Squeezebox

    I think that we should make it easier for LEGAL and LAWFUL immigrants to come to this country, but once they have trespassed, throw the book at them! The United States of America should never tolerate an invasion, no matter what the intentions of the invaders!

    April 12, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Jarhead

    As long as they adhere to the law and come in the correct and legal way–I have no problems..

    April 12, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't mind if they become permenant residents. They should not be rewarded with citizenship. They need to be cleared by the countries that they came from in terms of violent & criminal acts as well as human rights concerns (did they commit any human rights violations?). They came in here the wrong way, and it should be noted.

    If there are children who were forcible moved with their parents, then that is a different issue. Children can't be subject to this just because they were following their parents (or their parents instructions).

    April 12, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  22. Victim of GOP Taliban

    America just can't afford to be the amnesty homeland for all of Latin America. Obama said it best in that we need to figure out a solution to make Mexicans and other Latin Americans want to stay in their own nations.

    April 12, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. jerseylou

    It's to late,they already move into the neighbor hood,you can't put tooth paste back into the tube. You have to put the blame where it belongs right on the Repubicans door step.

    April 12, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. Tracey Blair

    What about making it easier for LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENT or others that have gone the legal route, to become citizens? Somebody who pays all the necessary high fees, submits their paperwork in time, and is a working, tax paying individualL?

    Nope, sorry, as much as I am sorry for their position that these illegals are in in their own country, I do not support coming here illegally and taxing our health care system and other agencies and not paying taxes.

    April 12, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Keith in Austin

    Obama and his Democrat minions obviously support lessening immigration requirements because they want the votes to keep them in power. Based on the healthcare fiasco just passed, does anyone really question what they will do even though The People are deadset against it?

    November cannot come soon enough folks!

    April 12, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
1 2 3 4 5