As Romney clarifies stance, poll shows Americans' priorities on immigration
October 2nd, 2012
12:00 PM ET
9 years ago

As Romney clarifies stance, poll shows Americans' priorities on immigration

(CNN) – A CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday showed a majority of Americans feel the focus of the country's immigration policies should be on developing a path to legal residency for undocumented immigrants, a shift from years past, when majorities Americans said the focus should be on deportation and closing the country's borders.

The survey comes the same day Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, was quoted saying he would allow young immigrants offered a two year deferral by President Barack Obama to remain in the country if he becomes president, a clarification of his previous stance.

Tune to CNN for Wednesday's presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

The poll indicated 56% of registered voters said the main focus of U.S. policy on undocumented immigrants should be developing a plan that would allow them to become legal residents. Thirty-nine percent said the focus should be on deporting undocumented immigrants and stopping more from coming to the U.S.

That's a change from one year ago, when 55% said the focus should be deportation, and 42% said the focus should be developing a path to legal residency. In 2010, 61% named deportation as more important, while 37% identified a plan for legal residency as a priority.

In June, Obama announced a change to immigration rules that allows people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military to apply for a two-year deferral from deportation. The rule change went into effect in August.

In Tuesday's CNN/ORC poll, 64% of registered voters said the new Obama policy was "about right," compared to 18% who said it goes too far and 15% who said it does not go far enough.

In an interview with the Denver Post published Tuesday, Romney said he would allow those who take advantage of the new rules to remain the country, say they "should expect that the visa would continue to be valid."

"I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," he said. "Before those visas have expired, we will have the full immigration-reform plan that I've proposed."

Previously, Romney had not specified how he would handle the estimated 1.7 million people who could qualify for the new rules.

Romney took a hard line stance on immigration during the Republican primary, but in Tuesday's interview and in his forum with Univision, the candidate has adopted a softer tone.

In December, Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act if he were president, saying instead he would support a path to residency – not citizenship – for those who served in the military, but not other DREAM Act proposals.

At a Republican presidential debate in January, Romney said he favored a system of "self-deportation," a policy that involves making economic conditions so difficult for undocumented workers that they choose to leave the country to find better opportunities. That stance was derided both by Democrats and his Republican rivals.

Lately, however, Romney has adopted a softer tone, advocating for permanent immigration changes rather than the temporary plans he says have been offered by Obama.

"We're not going to round up people around the country and deport them," Romney said at the Univision forum in September. "I said time and time again during our primary campaign, we're not going to round up 12 million people, that includes the kids and their parents, and have everyone deported. Our system isn't to deport people. We need to provide a long-term solution."

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International by telephone September 28-30 among 883 registered voters. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Filed under: CNN/ORC poll • Immigration
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Andrew

    It cracks me up that no matter which topic you choose, Mitt Romney has changed his view on it as recently as 2012..... I dare anyone to find one thing he hasn't taken both sides of....

    October 2, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. 2hheels2

    Mitt will agree to or say anything to lift himself in the polls. The thing you have to look at is his longstanding past. All of this is against any help or backing of Immigration reform. Mitt is not to be trusted.

    October 2, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. truth hurts

    Total BS... Was the poll taken in California?

    October 2, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Wake up People!

    @Andrew. The one thing he has stuck to is refusing to release more than two years of taxes. Everything else he has flip flopped so many times I get dizzy.

    OBAMA 2012!
    Btw, Latinos, Willard is counting on you to be uninformed and uneducated. A republican Latino is as bad as a black one. How can anyone support a party mired in so much hate, just because the next person doesn't look like you?Pitiful.

    October 2, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. c

    There is only one thing he hasn't flopped on yet... releasing the tax forms prior to 2010... though it's highly hypocritical to require that of potential vp picks.

    October 2, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. BLKMANinAmerica

    Well stick around I'm sure robo-Romney will come up with something else he thinks might get him elected, it cnstantanly changes like the WIND.

    October 2, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. sonny chapman

    But this is AMNESTY ! Don't you Non-Fox News people understand that this would cause the rivers to flow upstream & the sun to start rising in the West !

    October 2, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  8. GUY

    WHAT! Romney has changed his mind.................AGAIN! LOL! This guy flip flops on just about everything he says! I guess he saw that Latino students were voting for Obama so he changed his tune! Does he think the rest of us are stupid and don't notice his flip flops?

    October 2, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. dog1

    Interesting phrase "a clarification of his previous stance". Wouldn't that be flip-flop AGAIN? It's a bit hard to nail down just what this guy believes but it's whatever he thinks people want to here. If he were president would it be "we're going to war with wait maybe we're maybe we are"
    Hey look up the White Horse Prophesy! Interesting reading!

    October 2, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. Keith A. Sillsbury

    WTH... Flip........Flop...Flip..............................................Flop...Flip...Flop..Flip..Flop..........Flip.

    October 2, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "As Romney clarifies stance"

    As Romney changes his stance


    Stop carrying his water. Self-deportation and 'get out of here" =/= "I'll leave the temporary visas alone"

    October 2, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "I dare anyone to find one thing he hasn't taken both sides of...."

    There is ONE thing: "IT'S MY TURN."

    October 2, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Travis

    @ Wake up People!
    " A republican Latino is as bad as a black one. How can anyone support a party mired in so much hate, just because the next person doesn't look like you?"

    Care to explain why a republican latino is as bad as a black one? Oh...let me guess, because they're republican and shouldn't be allowed to have different ideas as say someone who is democrat, right? From what I can see, it looks like both sides have a good amount of hate to throw around.

    October 2, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "why would they work to add "solutions" to a problem that DOES NOT EXIST?"

    Swap out "voter fraud" for "rapidly growing minority population that votes for Dems" and it all becomes clear why the GOPers/Teatrolls think there is a "problem" that actually does exist and that their Voter ID laws, anti-early-voting laws, redistricting plans and new laws restricting voter registration drives are specifically designed to "fix."

    October 2, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. IndeePendant

    again...? flipflopping?

    October 2, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Abadone wish you were Hispanic LOL

    October 2, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    -truth hurts

    Total BS... Was the poll taken in California?
    Oh dear, something that runs counter the the rightie universe must be from California: has it occurred to your limited intellect that they might have polled people from across the Southwest, or across the country? Of course not. Do you also believe the moon is made of cheese, and the Earth is flat as well? If your masters told you so, you would swallow it like a trout going after a fly.

    October 2, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Pam from Iowa

    There goes Romney flip-flopping again!!
    Can this man not stay on track for anything?????

    October 2, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. just sayin

    romney is more latino than elizabeth warren is indian! just sayin....

    October 2, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. Borderless

    Is anyone aware of Mexico's immigration policies? In Mexico, illegal immigration is a felony punishable by up to 2 years in prison and immigrants who are deported and attempt to return can face 10 years. Visa violators can face 6 years and those who help illegal immigrants are considered criminal. Mexico also reserves the right to deport immigrants who are deemed detrimental to economic or national interests, are not mentally or physically healthy, or lack the necessary funds for their sustenance or the sustenance of their dependents. Why are we considered to be so hateful when even our strictest laws are far more lenient than Mexico's?

    October 2, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. Mikey

    @Travis – @Wake up –

    I have to side with @Travis on this one. People have many reasons for their political views and it is not fair to tell others based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or economic standing how they should vote. I choose conscience and fairness over pure economic self-interest in choosing to generally adopt a liberal/progressive point of view.

    October 2, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. ghostriter

    Borderless, why do conservatives bring up policies they like from other countries, but not the ones they despise? I mean, what about the socialized medicine practiced around the world?

    Don't mention some policies and not others.

    October 2, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. I changed my mind

    "As Romney clarifies his stance..." In other words... as Mitt moves closer to what Obama is already doing.. immigration, Iran, Syria... amazing how the more Mitt tries making all Obama decisions sound inept, he eventually comes around to saying.. "Well yes, but I would have done them a day earlier."

    October 2, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Borderless

    It should also be pointed out that Amnesty International has called on Mexico to change their policies involving immigrants from Central America. Virtually every developed nation has immigration policies designed to protect their nation's economy and security. We are far more lenient than most.

    October 2, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Borderless

    Ghostriter, I support Universal Health Care. I don't like Obama's plan because it's far too complex and punitive. I think Hillary Clinton might have done better and Mitt Romney has demonstrated success in his.

    October 2, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
1 2