Public Still Supports Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants

by Joseph Carroll

Republicans more likely than Democrats to support deporting all illegal immigrants

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon met on Tuesday as part of the Bush's five-nation tour of Latin America to discuss, among other things, the issue of illegal immigration into the United States. Earlier in the week, Bush said that it is not feasible to either grant illegal immigrants automatic citizenship or to deport all of them, and that he would work with both parties in Congress to find common ground on the issue.

The March 2-4, 2007, USA Today/Gallup Poll updated a question asked several times last year that measured Americans' preferences for the handling of illegal immigrants already in the country:

Which comes closest to your view about what government policy should be toward illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States? Should the government -- [ROTATED: deport all illegal immigrants back to their home country, allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States in order to work, but only for a limited amount of time, or allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S. citizens, but only if they meet certain requirements over a period of time]?

Given these three options, the majority of Americans, 59%, support the government allowing illegal immigrants to remain in this country and eventually become U.S. citizens if they meet certain requirements. Fifteen percent of Americans support allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the country to work for a limited period of time. About one in four Americans, 24%, say all illegal immigrants should be deported back to their home countries.

Across the four polls on which Gallup has asked this question since the illegal immigration controversy heated up last spring, most Americans have consistently supported the idea of allowing illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens after meeting certain requirements. However, slightly fewer Americans favor this idea than did so last year. At the same time, there has been a small uptick in views that the government should deport all illegal immigrants.

Republicans are much more likely than independents or Democrats to support deporting all illegal immigrants from the country. But still, the path to citizenship approach to illegal immigration is the most popular idea with members of all three groups.

Twenty-nine percent of Republicans say the government should deport all illegal immigrants, while 50% say it should let illegal immigrants remain in the country and eventually become U.S. citizens. By comparison, only 18% of Democrats support deporting all illegal immigrants and 66% support allowing illegal immigrants to have the opportunity to become citizens.

Support for deporting all illegal immigrants is also higher among Americans residing in lower-income households, although a solid majority of Americans at all income levels support the "path to citizenship" approach.

New Tamper-Proof Social Security Cards to Obtain Work in U.S.

One idea that has been advanced to better control the problem of hiring illegal workers would be for the government to issue new tamper-proof Social Security cards. These would be used as a way for people to prove their eligibility to work in the United States. The cards would have to be shown to a prospective employer in order for a person to be hired for a job. Americans react favorably to this proposal as a majority, 86%, says they favor it.

Republicans and Democrats show little variation in their views on this matter. But, self-described liberals (79%) are slightly less likely than conservatives (88%) or moderates (90%) to support the government issuing new tamper-proof Social Security cards as a requirement to obtain a job in the United States.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,010 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 2-4, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

20. Next, as you may know, the government is considering issuing new tamper-proof Social Security cards as a way for people to prove they are eligible to work in the United States. Would you favor or oppose requiring people to show this card in order to get a job in the U.S.?

 

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

       

2007 Mar 2-4

86%

10

3

22. Which comes closest to your view about what government policy should be toward illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States? Should the government -- [ROTATED: deport all illegal immigrants back to their home country, allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States in order to work, but only for a limited amount of time, or allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S. citizens, but only if they meet certain requirements over a period of time]?

 

 

Deport all

Remain in the U.S. in order to work

Remain in the U.S. and become citizen

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

2007 Mar 2-4

24

15

59

2

         

2006 Jun 8-25

16

17

66

1

2006 May 5-7

21

15

61

3

2006 Apr 7-9

18

17

63

2

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/26875/Public-Still-Supports-Path-Citizenship-Illegal-Immigrants.aspx
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