Poll: Americans Support Path to Citizenship, Younger More Sympathetic to Immigrants

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California now is the most diverse state in the Union.

A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute finds substantial majority support for immigrants. The survey also finds that younger people are more sympathetic to immigrants. This is particularly true of young Republicans as compared to older Republicans.

One example of this is the difference between younger Republicans and their elders on the question of whether immigrants face discrimination in the United States. According to the report:

Only about four in ten (41%) Republicans say immigrants experience a lot discrimination in society. In contrast, roughly twice as many Democrats (78%) and nearly two-thirds (64%) of independents believe immigrants face a lot of discrimination. However, Republicans are divided by generation. Six in ten (60%) Republican young adults (age 18-29) believe immigrants face a lot of discrimination, a view shared by only one-third (33%) of Republican seniors (age 65 or older).

Among the general public there is a rising perception of discrimination against immigrants. According to the study:

Close to six in ten white (57%) and API Americans (59%) say immigrants face a great deal of discrimination. About two-thirds (66%) of mixed-race Americans, roughly three-quarters (74%) of black Americans, and eight in ten (80%) Hispanics also believe immigrants face a lot of discrimination. Compared to views about discrimination against blacks, the generational divisions among whites in views of immigrants are even more pronounced. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of young white Americans believe immigrants face a lot of discrimination, while fewer than half (47%) of white seniors agree. A similar share (45%) of white seniors do not believe immigrants experience a lot of discrimination. There is also a sizable gender gap: White women are significantly more likely to perceive discrimination against immigrants than white men (62% vs. 51%, respectively).

The poll also found that popular support for a Pathway to Citizenship for the undocumented has not fallen in spite of President Trump’s repeated attacks on immigrants. According to the report:

Today, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans say the immigration system should allow immigrants currently living in the country illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements. Fifteen percent prefer allowing immigrants living in the country illegally to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, and another 16% say these immigrants should be identified and deported. Views on immigration reform policy have remained stable since 2013. Support for a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally has ticked up slightly since 2014, when six in ten (60%) Americans said such immigrants should be allowed to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements. At the time, 17% of Americans supported permanent legal residency, and 19% opted for deportation.

Despite the contentious discourse around immigration issues, providing a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally is the preferred policy of both Democrats and Republicans. However, Democrats express significantly stronger support than Republicans for allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the country legally. Three-quarters (75%) of Democrats say immigrants living in the country illegally should be granted a path to citizenship if they meet certain requirements, while a majority (55%) of Republicans say the same. Permanent legal residency is supported by relatively few Democrats (15%) and Republicans (13%), while deportation is a significantly more popular policy among Republicans (28%) than among Democrats (8%).

Younger Republicans, however, voice stronger support for legal status for illegal immigrants than those who are older. More than six in ten (62%) Republican young adults say immigrants living here illegally should be allowed to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, compared to a slim majority (53%) of Republican seniors.

 


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