CNN Poll: Most see pathway to citizenship
April 16th, 2013
10:24 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Most see pathway to citizenship

(CNN) - As Congress tries to reach consensus on how to deal with border security and immigration reform, a new national poll indicates that more than eight in 10 Americans support an eventual pathway to citizenship for some undocumented workers.

According to a CNN/ORC International survey, 84% of the public backs a program that would allow undocumented workers to stay in the United States and apply for citizenship if they have been in the country for several years, have a job, and pay back taxes.

The poll's Tuesday release comes on the same day that comprehensive immigration reform legislation put together by a bipartisan group of senators known as the "Gang of Eight" was to be formally proposed at a news conference.

The event was postponed with the nation still gripped by events surrounding Monday’s deadly Boston Marathon bombing, Richard Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said.

The bill, which is expected to be formally filed in the Senate late Tuesday night, calls for a 13-year path to citizenship for those who entered the United States prior to 2012.

It would take 10 years for such undocumented workers to get a green card, and then another three years to gain citizenship. Along the way, undocumented workers would have to pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check.

The legislation also mandates that there be no path to legality until it is determined that the U.S. border with Mexico is secure.

"Politically speaking, Democrats are more likely to support the proposal than Republicans, but even among GOPers, support is at 78%," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Demographically, the biggest difference is a gender gap, with support among men 9 points lower than among women. Nonetheless, support among men is a robust 79%."

The overall high level of support is not new - in a 2007 CNN survey, 80% felt that same way.

But the 84% figure is higher than two other national polls released in recent weeks. Nearly six in 10 Americans in surveys from Quinnipiac University and ABC News/Washington Post said they supported an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.

The other recent polls did not describe the circumstances under which immigrants would be allowed to stay - such as having a job and paying back taxes - which would likely dilute support for the proposals that are most likely to come before Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee could take up the “Gang of Eight” proposal as early as the end of this week.

President Barack Obama is encouraging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. He met Tuesday afternoon with Senators John McCain and Chuck Schumer, two of the "Gang of Eight" members. Some conservatives oppose eventually allowing undocumented workers to achieve citizenship, considering the move amnesty.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser and CNN Congressional producer Alan Silverleib contributed to this report

soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Bill

    For anyone who has gone through, or knows someone who had to go through the immigration process legally, this is an insult. My wife had to go through the process, one for which we paid thousands for. Our friends, who are physicians and had work visas, had to work in underserved areas for years and paid 20K+ in order to get their green cards. These are people who have paid a large amount of taxes through the entire process, and will eventually hire their own employees. Is this fair to these people who play by the rules? How could one possibly determine backed taxes from an ILLEGAL source? The idea is ludicrous. The simple solution is to hold businesses that hire illegal employees accountable for what they do. The amount of companies that are fined or raided per year is only in the scores. Yet we pay billiions in health costs and education for people who flaunted the law. How about hiring a few more people to hunt businesses who also break the law, and start sending them to jail. Word would get out quick, and you could put a string over the border. If there are no jobs available, these people would leave on their own.

    April 16, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. Obama's Missing Birth Certificate

    There already is a path to legal citizenship. It does not envolve breaking the law. You know what these ILLEGAL immigrants are doing. IF they broke the law getting into the United States then they should be sent to JAIL then DEPORTED.

    April 16, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Sven Johansen

    What is amazing if you do a little research is what would happen if YOU snuck into another country and what the ramifications would be if you were caught. Put the shoe on the other foot and see what would happen if you tried to LIVE and WORK in Mexico illegally or some other country........Just look at their penalties!
    We have the best government money can buy!

    April 16, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Joseph

    Legal immigration works and has worked for decades. We don't need to support illegal immigration - we don't need to make a crime legitimate just to placate people that support breaking the law.

    April 16, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. Disanitnodicos

    Massive propaganda campaigns work. Later when people realize what a mistake it is, as they have realized in Europe, it will be too late.

    April 16, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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