Majority Of Americans Support Path To Citizenship But Don’t Trust Congress To Pass It

A new poll from Quinnipiac University released Friday has found that while most Americans support a path to citizenship, they also believe that Congress will not be able to pass legislation on any major immigration reform.

The poll found that 54 percent of voters support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, with 72 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans in favor. Only 12 percent of respondents, and 15 percent of Republicans, think it is fair to keep undocumented immigrants in the country without giving them a pathway to citizenship.

But most Americans also agree on one other aspect of immigration reform: that Congress will not be able to pass a bill. Only 24 percent of respondents believed that Republicans and Democrats could work together to achieve comprehensive immigration reform this year. Democrats have the most faith in their representatives in Congress – whereas 78 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of independents don’t believe a bill will pass, only 61 percent of Democrats are as pessimistic.

Since Quinnipiac started asking the question in December 2012, support for a path to citizenship has consistently remained above 52 percent. Immigration reform as a whole has also proven popular, even among Republican voters. A poll conducted by conservative organizations in April found that 87 percent of Republicans favor the Gang of Eight reform proposal when presented with the specifics of the bill.

The broader suggestion here is that Americans recognize how un-democratic Congress has become, particularly in the wake of the high-profile failure of background checks for gun purchases in the Senate despite overwhelming public support for the measure. This lack of faith in Congress’ ability to serve its constituents is reflected in wide disapproval of the body, which was found earlier this year to be more unpopular than Nickelback, cockroaches, and Donald Trump. Voters’ suspicion might be well placed: House Republicans have indicated that they favor a piecemeal approach to immigration reform, where a pathway to citizenship provision would likely be dropped, creating a new permanent underclass. It is unclear whether public support for reform will translate to the polling booth, however: when Quinnipiac asked if a candidate’s position on a path to citizenship would make them more or less likely to vote for that candidate, 44 percent of voters said it would make no difference.


Kumar Ramanathan is an intern at ThinkProgress.