Across Religious and Party Lines, Steady Support for Path to Citizenship

Immigration reform receives bipartisan and cross-religious support, remaining one issue that largely transcends divisions.

Despite the ups and downs of the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, public support for a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally has remained steady throughout 2013. Immigration reform has continued to receive bipartisan and cross-religious support, remaining one of those rare issues that largely transcends such divisions.

PRRI’s newly released report, What Americans (Still) Want from Immigration Reform, finds that today, 63 percent of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements; 14 percent support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens; and roughly 1-in-5 (18 percent) favor a policy that would identify and deport all immigrants living in the United States illegally. This support for a path to citizenship has remained unchanged from earlier this year, when in both March and August 2013 an identical number (63 percent) supported a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.

The survey finds all major political groups currently favor creating a path to citizenship, including roughly 6-in-10 Republicans (60 percent) and independents (57 percent) and more than 7-in-10 (73 percent) Democrats. Majorities of all major religious groups also support a path to citizenship, including white evangelical Protestants (55 percent), white mainline Protestants (60 percent), Catholics (62 percent), minority Protestants (69 percent), and the religiously unaffiliated (64 percent).

Despite this strikingly broad support in the public, prospects for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a path to citizenship look dim.  Earlier in the month, House Speaker Boehner drew a hard line, saying, “We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.” But late last week, he softened his stance by saying that immigration reform was “absolutely not” a dead issue, and indicated that the House would consider a more piecemeal than comprehensive approach.

The fine line Boehner is walking is likely being drawn with one eye on the conservative Tea Party base, which is more opposed to immigration reform than mainstream Republicans, and the other eye on the future of the GOP. The Republican National Committee’s own post mortem on the 2012 presidential election concluded that the future of the party depends on better performance among Hispanics, the fastest-growing group of voters in the country. In the 2012 vote, this key group comprised 10 percent of voters and overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates.

If the Republican-controlled House does nothing on immigration reform, it could mean trouble down the road in winning over this key group. Notably, Hispanic Americans (55 percent) are significantly more likely than both white Americans (38 percent) and black Americans (39 percent) to say immigration policy should be an immediate priority for President Obama and Congress. And in PRRI’s September 2013 Hispanic Values Survey, most (54 percent), Hispanic likely voters said they would be less likely to vote for a political candidate who opposes immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.

Although most expect the effect of the Hispanic vote in 2014 mid-term elections to be modest overall, the Hispanic vote may play a pivotal role in several districts. Pro-immigration reform advocates have begun stepping up efforts to target those who have opposed immigration reform legislation, pushing out Spanish-language political ads in nine districts with GOP incumbents. Whether or not there are short-term consequences for the Republican Party in 2014, blocking action on legislation that majorities of their own party members and the nation support may be difficult to explain to already skeptical Hispanic voters heading into 2016.

Image courtesy of Vince Alongi.

Robert P. Jones
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  • JDwahoowa

    The House is leaderless because on this issue and so many others Boehner is not much of a leader. His gerrymandered House majority is safe for the moment. All he cares about. What’s best for the country? Boehner couldn’t care less.

  • SimonTemplar

    There already is a path to citizenship. It has been in place since the founding of this country. That is why the United States of America has traditionally been called “a nation of immigrants.”

    What is being asked for is a shortcut to citizenship and it is all for political purposes (the left needs to shore up a strong voting bloc before the next election). It is shameful what they are willing to do to this country just to gain their own political power advantage.

  • DocD

    “The survey finds all major political groups currently favor creating a path to citizenship”?

    Once again, Obama tells the WAPO what to say and the WAPO spews out his everlasting lies. “Obamacare will save you $2500 a year”. “You can keep your health insurance and your Doctor.” “The Benghazi massacre was the fault of a fourth rate video maker.” “There are only 11 million illegal aliens in the USA.” etc etc.

    The fact is that most Americans oppose the type of immigration reform offered by Obama, RINO’s and the Democrats. Even Obama’s other liberal propaganda machine (NBC) recently reported that fact.

    The only offer this nation should make to the 30 million illegal aliens bleeding our nation dry and jeopardizing our national security is to go home and apply for residency here legally. Otherwise, our once sovereign nation should bleed the illegal aliens dry until they go home of their own accord.

  • nck6

    Anyone have links some other polls? Doc believes this one is a sham….

  • Larry0555

    We have not only Obama to blame but every administration before him as well. Now because of all the ignorance of not upholding the laws of this country there isn’t much that we can do at this point. Basically what this article is saying that 63% are in favor of sugar coating the problem as did Reagan in the 1980’s.I’ll agree to a shorter path of citizenship but those who have already applied would have priority over illegals.The one thing would be is to make a ID card that is impossible to forge.In order for any of this to work things must change in Washington first and if they don’t then all of this is useless as it turn out under Reagan. Taxpayers open your wallets wider. It pays to be an illegal in this country look at what they are going to get.

  • Soapbox310

    Wow, I don’t believe this poll for a second… Was this a New York, Chicago, San Francisco Poll. Sure it wasn’t a select poll of Illegal’s.

  • itsthedax

    The republicans have put enormous effort and expense into jerrymandering congressional districts across the south and southwest, to make sure that they are “safe” districts populated by the “right” voters. If a lot of brown skinned people were allowed to vote in those districts, all that careful work be for naught.

    So, naturally conservatives want to keep brown skinned immigrants in their place: serving up fast food, working for landscaping firms, etc., but denying any economic opportunity or legal status.

  • John-the-Mason

    You must be smoking something.

    Black Americans do not support Immigration Reform as you have characterized it.

    There is no way that we want to first give amnesty to illegal aliens before giving amnesty to the millions of Black american youth now incarcerated in the United States for their non-violent crimes.

    Stop citing those biased polls and get the real facts on Black America Robert P. Jones