CNN Poll: Big generational divide in immigration battle
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Big generational divide in immigration battle

Washington (CNN) - While a small majority of Americans are in favor of the immigration bill currently before the U.S. Senate, according to a new national poll the old and young don't see eye to eye on the issue.

And a CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that more than six in ten say border security rather than a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants should be the bigger priority.

The poll's Tuesday morning release comes as a bill backed by the bipartisan 'Gang of Eight' senators faces more legislative hurdles. The measure would offer a 13-year path to eventual citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country. If the legislation passes through the Democratic Senate, it would face an uncertain future in the Republican dominated House of Representatives.

According to the poll, 51% say they support a bill that would attempt to increase border security and create a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants, with 45% saying they are opposed to such a measure.

"Support comes mostly from Democrats - six in ten favor the bill - with independents and Republicans split right down the middle," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is also a generation gap on this issue, with senior citizens opposed to the bill by a 17-point margin, while younger Americans tend to favor it."

The poll's release also comes as some GOP senators ready an amendment to the 'Gang of Eight' bill that they say would further bolster border security. Sixty-two percent of those questioned in the survey say that border security should be the main focus U.S. immigration policy, with 36% saying that creating an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants should be the top priority.

"Republicans and independents strongly support making border security the top concern, but even Democrats are split on this question," adds Holland.

There's also a generational divide, with those age 18-34 split on what's most important, and large majorities of those age 35 and older saying border security should be the top priority when it comes to immigration policy.

President Barack Obama and Democrats want to fulfill a promise to Hispanic Americans, the nation's fastest-growing demographic and a key voting bloc, to address the limbo of the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the country. If the bill becomes law, it would be one of the president's major legislative achievements of his second term.

But the poll indicates a majority of Americans don't give Obama a thumbs up on the issue. Only four in ten say they approve of the job he's doing on illegal immigration, with 56% saying they disapprove of his performance on the issue. Those numbers are little changed in CNN polling dating back to 2009, the president's first year in the White House.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11-13, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. cm

    So basically all the Boomers are worried that their golden parachute won't last? They sold out their grandchildren and are looking forward to a nice cushy life of retirement (which my generation will never see) and are angry that they might have to tighten their belts and share some of the burden for cleaning up the debt-riddled mess they left us with with 50 years of pointless wars and deficit spending...

    June 18, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  2. Holly

    I just don't understand my country that I love so much. Why is it so easy to come here without an invitation and stay. No other country on this big ball in the sky is so lax on illegal immigration. So may countries put you in jail, immediately deport you or shoot you. In America we give them a job, food stamps and pay all their medical bills expecially as they have one little citizen after the other. They don't know about birth control obviously. Guess there is nothing we can do now but hopefully the ACLU will invite all of them to live in their house.

    June 18, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  3. david

    So NOW who is not compromising? This shows me the true colors of my representatives and it makes me see RED.

    June 18, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  4. simplyput

    More proof that the voting age should be raised to 35, with voter id mandated.

    June 18, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |

    No AMNESTY.. .. We do not have the jobs anymore to continue allowing more people in. Time to say NO MAS.

    June 19, 2013 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  6. ronvan

    WILL NEVER HAPPEN! First of all OUR "elected children" will screw it up! Whatever one side wants the other side will say NO! Doesn't matter if it is a good thing & makes sense! I would agree that our border must be secured 1st!
    Personally, I would bring ALL our troops home, give them a break, and then put THEM on the border! Let them use their hi teck equipement, have "detainment" power, use of deadly force only for self protection! Then they turn over detaines to border patrol for further processing. Build MORE processing stations along the border! It does not make any sense to me for a person, without proper paperwork, to cross our borders, get into the heart of our country and then disappear into the system! Don't agree with this 14yr?, to gain citizenship! IF the people involved have been living here, illegally, but have done nothing wrong, have been paying taxes, etc., then make it 5yrs! IF illegal, and doing bad things, get them OUT immediately, and get back in line! That includes children! HARD decisions require hard actions and if we are going to let sympathy guide our policy then why bother? Then the OTHER side of this coin is that WE had better get prepared to see price increases for those items that immigrants provide us, with their cheap, slave like, wages & conditions!

    June 19, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
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