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. mitchgam

    We already have a way of keeping Illegal immigrants out, denying them jobs.
    It is called the e-Verify system.

    Our congress long ago passed, tested and paid for the computer system behind the e-Verify system, all that is needed if for congress to mandate its usage.

    Once mandated it will deny employment to the vast majority of those working who shouldn't be and severely fine those who hire them.

    The only reason it is not mandated is because it works and despite the rhetoric from both sides, nobody wants to change anything. It is much easier to just spend billions more on border security that can't work then utilize a tool already paid for that does.

    June 18, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  2. SayWhaaaat

    Whom ever said that this is a "racial" issue is bind! Its about how illegal immigrants are taking welfare and claiming taxes, taking advantage of the hard working Americans!

    June 18, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. Nobody - Because a Vote doesn't count anymore

    somewhere in this thread "Jeff" said something about letting the productive illegals come out of the shadows – if they are in the shadows then there is no way they could have been productive. Using services they weren't entitled to, working off the books while collecting those services is just another example of how they broke one law coming here illegally then broke another law by taking assistance they weren't entitled to. The sad fact is our own government is selling US all out. There's one agenda and only one agenda here – keep things so bad that taxpayers are too busy keeping afloat to realize how bad they're screwing US.

    June 18, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. Howard

    The first step to immigration reform should be border security. If you do not secure the border how will the government be able to tell who was here before or after the law is signed in, if it passes. One of the conditions to legal status should also include learning English. Manufacturers, DMV's or any other business' should not have to post anything or give any type of test's in Spanish, If you do not speak or read English you should not be allowed to obtain a drivers license.

    June 18, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. robert

    The term amnesty does not appear in the bill. But of the synonyms for amnesty (forgive, remit, condone, forgive, excuse), forgiveness is mentioned; on page 495.
    “Loan forgiveness: The Director may expend funds from the Account for
    purposes of loan forgiveness or repayment of student loans which led to a low-income student obtaining a degree in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or other high demand fields.”

    I am troubled that someone who came here illegally would be forgiven for a student loan when such forgiveness will not be extended to students who came here legally or who were born here.

    June 18, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. Galactus93

    The current Senate bill is just nothing but pandering to special interest groups and does not solve any problems of illegal immigration. The Federal Government will just give everyone Amnesty and forget about enforcement. We need to deport all illegal aliens living in the United States. NO Pathway to US citizenship and make it impossible for an illegal alien to get or keep a job in the US.

    June 18, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. aspblom

    Why do so many democrats NOT want a secure border?

    June 18, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. bezoz

    As a legal immigrant who went through the system, paid my taxes, application costs, waited, went to interviews, gave blood samples, etc, I think anyone who did not follow the rules should be forced to. Not sure what the 13-year wait is for but if it includes all the above steps then I'm all for it.

    To make sure people follow the process, rules should be tightened on hiring illegal immigrants and government paid services rendered to older illegal immigrants should be stopped unless they prove that they are following the legal process. Younger ones had no say in their ordeal so I believe an exception should be made for them.

    June 18, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. patti

    Why make them legal just when they came in illegally. That is a stupid reason to make someone legal. If they can tap phones to find people then they need to tap theirs, get them out of the county All the illegals are NOT immigrants! Stop calling them immigrants! Get the illegals out of the country first then come up with a bill. It will cost less in the long run and I am sure volunteers will join to help them out, I know I will.

    June 18, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. Asitis

    Don't promote lawbreakers/criminals. Don't promote foreigners who have no respect for American laws and break our laws and become criminals. Only allow law abiding people to become citizens of the USA. If Congress really wants to promote criminals why don't you promote American criminals and not foreign criminals?

    June 18, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Brian

    I dont see an issue here. Give the damn illegals , at least the responsible ones, due process into citizenship, and start cashing in more on the taxes they pay. They already pay upwards of $200B as reported by many ITN number registrations and tax reporting agencies. I think its high time we stop blaming illegals for tiny problems such as the fallacy of them taking so much money from welfare which is completely incorrect, even a 5 yr old sees the hole in that logic. In fact, the only subsidized services, if you want to call it that, are ER and public schooling. I am very ashamed of being part of a country that still believes fallacies and myths. English is not the official language of our country, and theres a big reason why. Brush up on your history.

    June 18, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. patti

    Pass a bill for a path to where they came from if here illegally, and a fine for every year they were here. Time to put the foot
    down American! Otherwise we look like wimps. Make the pathway home to where they came and your bill will pass with high numbers!! Illegals go back where you can from.

    June 18, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. glaird

    It's not "immigration" that CNN, the liberals, and every other self serving individual (who has a vested interest in harboring, hiring, and feeding illegal aliens) are talking about. They use the word to confuse the issue. What CNN really means is granting amnesty to criminal individuals, who ignored our borders, are stealing jobs from Americans, and consuming limited resources.
    If a real poll were taken, I dare say that 95%+ of Americans would welcome REAL immigrants with open arms. My family immigrated in the 18th & 19th century. My in laws were literally plucked right out of the South China Sea, after the Vietnam debacle. But then, I'm now talking about law abiding refugees, who embraced the values and virtues of this country and became model citizens.

    June 18, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Jason

    Why not have a corporate death penalty for corporations that hire illegals, after all corporations are people

    June 18, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Timus

    GOP reminds me of the guy from Rebel Without a Cause who played chicken until the last minute and went over the cliff!!!

    June 18, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Bob Tash

    Last year more caucasions died than were born. In the USA on average, families are having less than 2.1 children per family which is the minimum to sustain GNP. Immigration is the only way to sustaining population as we cannot dictate how many chidren each family must have. So take your pick increase the muslim population or increase the latino christian population; I choose the latter.

    June 18, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. may40

    Brian, You really need to do some fact checking. When my grandparents came here in the early 1900's they had to learn the English language. At home they spoke in their native tongue but I have had it with pushing #1 for Spanish!!! No crippling the immigrant and let them learn the language. When I visit their country I bring a translation dictionary or take a crash course rather than being lazy.

    June 18, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. parkmore

    It looks like something new. Obama won with 51% and 49 was for Rum. For the immigration, it will be the same split? Do not expect something different......

    June 18, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. Laferia52

    It upsets me when I see people in the local news saying that some of their relatives were detained by immigration officer and that their relatives havent done anything wrong. Sure they are illigally in the country but they are here to work. They ignore the fact that this country as any other country has immigration laws.And people who violate the law are subject to be detained and deported.People that are here illigally should be detained and deported.They can apply for legal entry into this country like any other foriegner. Congress should support our laws not reward illegal entry into this country.

    June 18, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. d

    Why don't we do what France did? We create a Foreign Legion and send these illegal aliens to Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the world to fight for America. We won't have to send our own boys over there to die for nothing.

    June 18, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. wade

    That is the point. The reasonable approach is to secure the border FIRST then reform immigration. DEMS always promise to secure the border then LIE and never do it. they been doing the same routine since 1985.

    June 18, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. vabonp

    It boils down to you are either going to have immigration laws and enforce them or you are not going to have immigration laws and allow anyone who wants to come to our country to stay. Trying to parse immigration issues is frought with failure.

    June 18, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Steve

    So pretty good on the things that can be accomplished by saying "because I said so" but nothing in the areas that require mediation, gathering support and a consensus.

    June 18, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. Crockett

    Mandate e-Verify. Abolish the infiltration strategy of giving birth to anchor babies. Deny illegals driver's licenses and voting privileges. Cut free education and welfare to illegals. Secure the border. Make English the national language. And require that Mexico hand over one acre of land for every illegal who stays in this country. Finally, abolish the Democratic and Republican parties, and have every candidate run as a privately funded Independent, so that no party's viability depends on the Hispanic (or any other community's) vote. Just agglomerating popular ideas for debate here.

    June 18, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Frederic

    I'm tired of people that think illegal immigrants take advantage of welfare and taxes, first of all if you are illegal you can not have any kind of benefits cause in order to do it you need a social security number. Illegal immigration have to stop, but please stop saying that they taking others people jobs , most of the immigrants make less than 8 dollars /hour . One more thing I agree with the mandatory learning of English, but I hope someday "Americans" learn another language beside English , cause culturally we are behind other nations

    June 18, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16