The Public Supports a Pathway to Citizenship


Six out of 10 Americans today support a path to citizenship for the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, according to a new survey.

The survey was headed by Brookings Institution’s religion, policy and politics project in partnership with the Public Religion Research Institute. It was one of the largest surveys ever conducted on immigration policy, immigrants, and religious and cultural changes in the U.S., surveying nearly 4,500 American adults.

According to the report, entitled Citizens, Values and Cultural Concerns: What Americans Want from Immigration Reform:

– More than 6-in-10 (63%) Americans agree that the immigration system should deal with immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally by allowing them a way to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements.

– More than 7-in-10 (71%) Democrats, nearly two-thirds (64%) of independents, and a majority (53%) of Republicans favor an earned path to citizenship.

– Majorities of all religious groups, including Hispanic Catholics (74%), Hispanic Protestants (71%), black Protestants (70%), Jewish Americans (67%), Mormons (63%), white Catholics (62%), white mainline Protestants (61%), and white evan­gelical Protestants (56%), agree that the immigration system should allow immi­grants currently living in the U.S. illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements.

– Overall, Americans are more likely to have positive rather than negative views about immigrants. A majority (54%) of Americans believe that the growing number of newcomers from other countries helps strengthen American society, while a significant minor­ity (40%) say that newcomers threaten traditional American customs and values.

Previous studies had shown that about seven in 10 Americans support some sort of immigration reform, regardless of if it included a pathway to citizenship or just a form of permanent residency.

The new survey clearly shows that public support is gaining behind the push for comprehensive immigration reform.

We need to continue to do all that we can to support the cause, including reaching out to all of our elected officials. Working together, we can help push forward commonsense immigration policy.

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