Majority of Americans Still Support Pathway To Citizenship For Undocumented Immigrants

CREDIT: ThinkProgress/ Esther Y. Lee

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Nearly two-thirds of all Americans have held steady in supporting a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants since the Senate first proposed an immigration reform bill, according to a new report out Monday by the nonpartisan group Public Religion Research Institute.

The report finds that public support for citizenship is blind to party lines and has not deviated much between March to November 2013. At least 60 percent of Republicans, 73 percent of Democrats, and 57 percent of independents support a pathway to citizenship. Anywhere between 55 percent to 69 percent of religious and unaffiliated religious individuals also back a pathway to citizenship. The results are drawn from 1,006 respondents in national surveys and focus groups conducted in Arizona, Florida, and two surveys conducted in House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) state of Ohio. Only 18 percent of Americans would like to see undocumented immigrants identified and deported.

The report doesn’t deviate much from previous findings, but it does strengthen the argument that Americans are receptive to reform, especially when citizenship requirements are articulated. About six in ten survey respondents support a pathway to citizenship when pollsters asked a general question without including “certain requirements” from the Senate’s reform bill. But support rose from 59 percent to 71 percent when requirements including having to pay $4,000 in fines and fees, learn English, and pass a background check were laid out. Past surveys focused only on Republican respondents found that when the citizenship requirements are fleshed out, support similarly rose.

Interestingly, seven in ten Americans believe that the proposed 13 year waiting period to become citizens is too long and 43 percent believe that the estimated $4,000 fines and fees is too much.