A new bipartisan national poll shows broad support by Americans for an immigration reform program that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented.
Americans said by a four-to-one margin that they favored a reform proposal which put the undocumented on a clear path to citizenship. Respondents clearly rejected proposals that granted undocumented immigrants who applied for legalization only a temporary permit to live in the United States. 87 percent of Americans said “it would be better to give people a chance to eventually earn citizenship at some point after they register for legal status, pass a background check, learn English, and pay taxes,” while just 7 percent said “they should be allowed to qualify for legal status and work in the United States but should never be given the chance to earn citizenship.” The support for the citizenship option was virtually identical among members of both major parties with 83% of Republicans, 91% of Democrats, and 82% of Independents choosing citizenship over temporary visas.
The Obama administration is expected to unveil legislation by the end of March that would allow the undocumented to apply for temporary status, and then, after meeting certain requirements, become permanent residents. Five years after becoming residents, these immigrants could apply for citizenship if they have learned English, can pass a civics examination, have a clean record, and have paid their taxes. Senator Marco Rubio has been talking about a reform program that would only offer temporary status, although there are indications he may be moving towards a compromise with the administration.
Here were other key findings:
• When asked to choose between deporting undocumented immigrants “because they are taking away jobs that Americans need” versus allowing them to become legal taxpayers, “so they pay their fair share and can work toward citizenship in the future,” a solid 73 percent favored the citizenship option over deportation, which received only 22 percent.
• When asked to choose between focusing first on securing the border versus requiring immigrants to “become legal and pay taxes, while also improving border security,” 64 percent favored the combined solution versus 31 percent for border enforcement “first.”
This firmly rebuts the conservative demand that the “borders be secured” before reform is allowed to go ahead. Voters know that the border is as secure as it ever has been, and that this demand is just a delaying tactic.