July 29th, 2010
04:46 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Should illegal immigrants be allowed to stay?

Washington (CNN) - The vast majority of Americans say they favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. if they have a job and pay their taxes, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that a majority of the public says such a plan takes a back seat to stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.

Eighty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say they support creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. for a number of years to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country permanently if they had a job and paid back taxes, with 19 percent opposed to such a plan.

According to the poll 78 percent of white respondents favor the program, 16 points lower than the 94 percent of Hispanics questioned who back a plan that would provide a pathway to legal status for some illegal immigrants.

But the survey indicates that 57 percent of Americans say the main focus of the federal government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration should be developing a plan that would stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country and deporting those already in the U.S. That's 15 points higher than the 42 percent who say developing a plan that would allow illegal immigrants who have jobs to become U.S. residents should be Washington's top priority.

The survey's Tuesday release came two days before parts of an Arizona immigration law took effect Thursday, after a federal judge blocked several of its most controversial aspects. The preliminary injunction, issued Wednesday, means that, at least for now, police are prevented from questioning people's immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in the country illegally.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted July 16-21, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone, including a special sample of 308 black and 303 Hispanic respondents. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Full results (pdf)

EDITOR'S NOTE: When this story originally appeared on Tuesday, the number of white and Hispanic respondents who back a plan that would provide a pathway to legal status for some illegal immigrants was mistakenly transposed. The above wire is correct.

Filed under: CNN Polls • Immigration • issues • Polls
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Bettybb

    Funny how the independent polls all find about 70% of Americans are against legalization, while "commissioned" polls like this one by pro amnesty CCN (cheap labor for the elite) find just the opposite!

    I note that over half of the respondents to this survey were Hispanic or Black, hardly a real sample of Americans. But then again, other "commissioned" polls have been skewed by having a disproporionate number of respondents among the rich... who profit from the cheap illegal labor.

    Ah the spin! But Americans are not buying it. 70% either support the AZ law or think it does not go far enough.

    With 15 milion Americans out of work, it is incomprehensible that anyone would propose amnesty for lawbreakers. But the moneyed class does want to keep American wages nice and low, and wants those profits to keep on coming from illegal labor.

    Besides, why should lawbreaking Hispanics be given preferential immigration treatment over law abiding people of all races coming here legally?

    Legalization = racism.

    July 27, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  2. Paul Ernest Show

    Americans who are not properly analyzing this immigration issue are bound to support general deportation. I understand both sides of the argument. I spend time daily dealing with people of all races on a business level. Lots of Americans are frustrated that Spanish folks are not trying to integrate themselves into the American culture, by learning English, respecting laws,generally, but rather attempting to form and live in a separate subculture . Essentially, alienating themselves. This is true, but there is the economics of this issue. The illegal alien has undeniably, big purchasing power. And many American businesses have been the benefitiary of this buying power. Since the decline of the construction business,over two years ago, these American businesses have suffered greatly because of loss of customers. If these aliens are massively deported it would further hurt many more businesses across the board, thereby hurting the overall, American business.

    July 27, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  3. kate

    They are illegal. What part of illegal don't they get?

    July 27, 2010 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  4. Karri

    I've been watching Rick's List and I enjoying watching him. The poll on this I have to say is the law is what the law is. Illegals have committed crimes. First by coming over and taking up residence or not leaving when their visa's expired. Second how are they paying taxes without a social security number or any other legal documentation? Obviously these legal documents they're using are forgeries and that's a felony. Oh they're not breaking any laws! If any of us ever did that you damn right we'd be in jail and paying fines! Sorry I won't help those who knowingly and willfully broke the law. Fix the system first before even considering allowing these illegals to stay. I'm also growing tired of people saying it's racist. It has absolutely nothing to do with race it has to do with a crime! How do you think those who are coming to this country legally feel? Like they've been spit in the face!! If the Federal govt won't enforce the law then it's in the right of a state to do it. Things need to get done the right way and not ass backwards. Those children who were born here offer them dual citizenship and when they're old enough they can deside which citizenship they want but until then they all should be sent back to the back of the line.

    July 27, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  5. Liz the First

    Glad to see that so many Americans are looking at this issue sensibly instead of foaming at the mouth about the illegal invasion. i wonder how the haters manage to reconcile their hatred of these hard-working people trying to make a better life for their families with their 'christianity.'

    July 27, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  6. Gary Hern/Sociologist and Historian Major

    I really doubt your poll on the immigration question allowing illegals to
    stay in America if they have a job and pay taxes. First of all that would
    mean an employer would be hiring an illegal which is against the law.
    Second of all who were the sample Americans? Were they indepen-
    dants, republicans, democrats, green party, libertarians or what?

    Your poll seemed so out of wack is why I'm asking, if it were 50% I would not have noticed, but 94% shows a major bias and a lack of
    good judgement on CNN's part. If this is a CNN poll then get out of the poll business, your hacks! Always use an independant source in
    collecting samples, and make sure your samples are from all ot the
    United States of America, representing all of the voters who are re-
    gistered to vote.

    July 27, 2010 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  7. NELLY

    I think that every country must solve the problems of his inhabitants and that the immigration only deberia to be accepted in cases of wars as refugee. But in case of the law of Arizona there must be respected the rights of the immigrants who already achieved his legal documentation and they form a part already of the North American population be which is his origin. Irrespetar to these persons is to return to the times of pursuit for races since it was the case that I spend with the blacks in epochs of the neo-Nazism being USA such a developed country this law making this him stay very badly in the frame of the discrimination at this point of the century. Thank you for permitting to think.

    July 27, 2010 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. bc

    illegal is illegal, however if they were brought here as children and had no choice, and if they are now productive employees, college students or in the military they should have the right to apply for citizenship on a fast track.

    July 27, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  9. SandraM

    I believe the poll you have references is a HOAX. There is absolutely no way that Americans have any remaining tolerance for Illegals. I'm tired of entertainers, musicians, politicians, and athletes running off at the pie hole about illegals rights. We have the right to LAW Enforcement and we're not getting it. When all of the high and mighty remove their security guards and gated communities and allow the illegals to live with them, THEN and only then should they have an opinion on the matter. America is NOT the world's lifeboat. We do not reward bank robbers with banks, pedophiles with children, or rapists with victims, why do we continue to reward breaking into this country with citizenship. Let's be clear, not every criminal is an Illegal but EVERY ILLEGAL IS A CRIMINAL.

    July 27, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  10. jim germann

    this is a bs poll. By the way, cnn reporter,jeesica yellin,former liberal activist at harvard u., keeps calling illegal immigrants, "undocumeted workers", that should tell you how objective cnn is. Even the poll doesnt define,people who break the law to come into america.NO, we should make sure we stop illegal immigration,at the borders,and thru airplane entry. Its a myth,that the united states,the greatest country in the world,can secure its own borders. Its utterly ridiculous. Pres Bush wimped out, because,he was afraid the lamestream media would call him a nazi,if he put troops,built a fence, or added about 10000new border patrol agents. This is just an amnesty ploy. I feel bad for people who have been in the U.S. awhile. Lets rephrase the polling quesiton: Once we secure the borders, illegal immigrants,will pay fines, go the end of the line, and be able to speak english. By the way, havent seen any "political ticker's" on sen kerry's yacht hypocrisy.

    July 27, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  11. Sharon

    Yes, the flow illegal immigrants coming into the US should be stopped first. A plan for those already here working, paying taxes, etc should have avenues made possible for citizenship. Illegal immigrants who have broken law should be deported who are here already.

    Arizona Immigration Law is not good. Police will indeed ultimately racially abuse this law. Law enforcement themselves face lawsuits if residents feel police are not acting to enforce this law. White will be pitted against hispanics. Racial hatred can become quite vindictive. Ex. Arizona residents can lodge complaints against illegal immigrants with false criminal accusations. Police act to investigate this perfectly innocent Hispanic , they have done no wrong excpt they are in Arizona/US illegally. And thus with this police investigative contact – that family can be arrested, placed in jail, and criminally charged with being in country illegally. I foesee many false criminal accusations arising out of the "provisions no racial profiling aspect and person/s can only be asked when approached to produce papers when police has police interaction/contact. And once you are in jail person could be there 4-5 days while citizenship proff investigated. Anyone, even caucasions may face same actions if someone is "having a bad day." Any other race too.

    July 27, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  12. DontLeaveMadJustLeave

    I'm of Mexican heritage just as you are and YOU embarrass me. How hard is it for you people to WRAP your brain around LAW vs LAWLESS? And the female journalist is a moron to say that an Illegal hasn't broken any other laws other than crossing over. Stop drinking the koolaid. These Illegals don't just walk over and become law abiding Illegals, you seem to forget they're stealing identities, defrauding employers, defrauding our goverment, and bankrupting hospitals due to healthcare services they will never pay for. Every single day the Illegal is here is another Illegal crime. There is NO such thing as a law abiding Illegal. EVERY ILLEGAL IS A CRIMINAL....you can slice it and dice it and slap lipstick on it....an Illegal is still an Illegal.

    July 27, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
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