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. Libdumb

    The issue is that anyone here that didn’t abide by the law is a criminal and should be deported and or in jail. Anyone that gives them immunity is an accessory to the crime.

    June 18, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  2. al

    At least there is a proposal out there for them to work from. That is more progress on this issue than we have seen since Clinton was in office.

    June 18, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  3. Larry L

    If you're a hard-liner you'll want America to hunt down and round-up 11 million people, incarcinate them, give each a deportation hearing, hold them all (including their children), and ultimately them transport them to their country of origin. This would be done while the tens of millions of family members and friends protest in the streets – and hide the immigrants from the police. Some protests would be violent as families are ripped apart. Many industries would grind to a halt – like housing construction, some forms of agriculture, and a great many service jobs that Americans tend to avoid. Right-wingers need to think befor offering overly-simplified solutions for very complex problems.

    June 18, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. Beth

    This is solely due to the GOP losing so much of the Hispanic and minority vote in 2012, not due to any real concern or compassion. Its like politicians who support marriage equality only after it effects their own family. Pandering at its most blatant, but if that's what it takes to get real change and better policies, I guess that's the world we now live in. Sad that politicians cant be motivated to do what is right simply because its the right thing to do.

    June 18, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. Brando

    The President wants to live up to his word for Hispanic Americans. How about you live up to your word for the REAL AMERICANS. The only reason he cares so much about them is because he wants there votes. They mostly vote Democrat and so he will do anything for them. We are talking about 11 million illegal Mexicans living in our country getting free medicare, that we pay for, drivers license's, and etc. This is a slap in the face to Americans and the President wants to give them more. This is a joke. The President is a liar and obviously does not care about Americans or even the ones that voted for him. The young people that seem to favor his decision need to be educated. Obviously people are raising there kids with the wrong views. I am not racist and I even have a Mexican uncle, but this should be about what is best for the United States and this is not it.

    June 18, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. Jerry

    Meanwhile back at the ranch the University of Chicago removing pews from an 88-year-old chapel in order to make room to accommodate Islamic prayer rugs?

    June 18, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |

    It's ironic that basically this bill will take jobs from low income Democrat americans and give them to immigrants...

    June 18, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. Me

    Smoke and Mirrors people. For you people who have your heads turned slathering and screaming about Snowden..who is telling us stuff that most people who pay attention already know. The government is going to slip an immigration bill right you.

    June 18, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  9. Jim

    Build the fence. Discuss the status of non citizens later.

    June 18, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. UpsetVoter

    The best solution would be to expand the resident status and document people who are already here. They should not be granted citizenship unless they pass all the current rules and be proficient in English. The rest of this country should not be forced to change languages because of immigration. Anybody with a criminal background, other than illegal entry into this country, should be refused residency and citizenship. The status of newborns should be changed to match the rules of European countries. At least 1 parent should be an American citizen for the newborn to be an American citizen.

    June 18, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. the law

    11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country.. and what % of them will get goverment or state $$.. Not good.. Tax the Democrats for this money...

    June 18, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. pogojo

    First line
    While a small majority of Americans are in favor of the immigration bill currently before the U.S. Senate

    June 18, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  13. Carol the American

    I'm regretting voting for Obama. We need to DEPORT the 11million illegals, not make them citizens. I don't want 11million more to be eligible for benefits of my taxpaying families! They would then be eligible for the Social Security benefits that are already being threatened to disappear, Medicaid, UNEMPLOYMENT, and that's only the tip if the financial iceberg! We're not talking about putting 11million doctors and lawyers on a track to citizenship! How is this fair also when so many are applying to come to this country the legal way, waiting decades for the opportunity, yet we are rewarding those who can run across our borders fastest. All my relatives immigrated here the legal way through years of waiting, strict interviews, affadavits of support, ALL speak English fluently, and are now all high taxpayers, making the country stonger. We owe nothing to these illegals, yet we will be financially drained now and in the future by this unfair move! Let's tell all the Norwegians, Egyptians, etc who want to immigrate to America to hightail to Mexico and put on their Nike sneakers for a quick midnight run across the border! Just as the Canadian joke is going around now... What do you call American? Answer: Upper Mexico! .. Maybe it was wrong to put in a half Kenyan president in office because he is not hardcore AMERICA!!!


    June 18, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  14. ram

    Key to this immigration reform is speed at which it goes through congress. This huge bill has so many complicated provisions for both legal and illegal immigration, its hard even for people who follow this issue closely to understand the implications of this bill. I am sure if citizens get to know more about the provisions and calculate effect on their jobs it will increase opposition among public.

    June 18, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. TheGLOV

    For years & years, both Democrats and Republicans have bee prostituting themselves regarding the 'illegal immigrants' in this country for votes. Time to stop! Don't pass this. Give them 13 months to get out or be forced out!!

    June 18, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. efque

    I wonder all those who oppose immigration for refuggees ... I wonder how many of them are Native American ..

    I doubt they had a choice !

    June 18, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. Jamie

    I feel anyone who wants to work with the general public needs to read, write, speak, and understand the English language fluently. My point being, if I wanted to live and work in France, I'd learn French. If I wanted to live and work in Mexico, I'd learn Spanish. To take it one step further, if I was trying to get a job dealing with the general public in another country, I'd make sure I knew and understood the language completely.

    June 18, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    It seems as though everything coming out of Washington for the last 4 years are against the wishes of the majority of Americans. The only choice we have is to elect these Politicians and once their in they do what they wish. The immigration bill as it stands today is bad for America. The borders need to be secure, no government assistance (including Obama Care), and no discretion for the Homeland Security Chief. This bill is all about Politics at this point!

    June 18, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. ram

    Either young or old jobs will be affected.

    June 18, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  20. Dynamic Ifiction

    Many industries would grind to a halt if illegal workers are deported ... but it's alright that US citizens are marginalized by those illegal workers?

    June 18, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. Politics Above The Law - BAD

    No amnesty for illegals! Do not change the law for votes. That is the quickest way to become a banana republic. Do not condone the actions of those who do not respect the law – that is a BIG MISTAKE !!!!!!!!

    June 18, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  22. Gabbo

    The rose-colored glasses worn by the left must dull their brains.

    June 18, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  23. Michael Johnson

    We see the indoctrinated brainwashed lying low information no morality conservative cesspool is out. They think we all have their intellectual challenges. We spend 15 billion on border security to have they liars say nothing is being done. Why cater too conservatives, the lowest elements of American society? These uneducated crybabies can't look at a map and see the problem with closing the border. They believe they can sit on their fart lazy butts and snap their fingers and seal the border.

    I can't force education on to conservatives or make men out of them. I can't make them honest or decent.

    I want them to stop thinking I, like them, lack intelligence. You say "illegal is illegal." I'm sick of your lies. Ronald Reagan had 138 federal convictions in his administration. This criminal is their heroes. Let rise taxes or do what ever it takes to get conservative anchor babies to self deport so we can replace them with hard working undocumented workers who love this nation.

    June 18, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Hard Liners Larry L,
    The american people, that's most of them, don't want to fund all the illegal's that could become citizens. You think it's just a small problem that won't cause hardship to anyone. Now Larry, let's look at some history. The latest fisaco, sold to us by the Liberal's was the Housing Bubble. Nothing to it, right? So, larry, why are so many morgages (Still) in forclouture? Still haven't learned, Larry? Take a good look at Obama Care. See any problems? Why are 50 Million on Food Stamps? Why do we have a nearly 17 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt Larry? According to the Liberal's, and Obama it is just a bump in the road. Need more evidence Larry? Social Security is running out of money, Medicare is running out of money. If all those illegal's become citizens, they will be gsming the system Larry. The American Taxpayer sees the handwriting on the wall. But the Liberal's who have no money think everything will be just fine. After all it will be the Tax Payers that will be stuck with the bill. Figured it out yet, Larry?

    June 18, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Rosemark, TN

    I'm sorry but 1,014 people is not a "small majority" of the millions of people in America. Where are these people? And since when would the opinions of 1,014 people be BREAKING NEWS? Like "Me" said, smoke and mirrors.

    June 18, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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