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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Public Opinion, Immigration, and Citizenship

A new report from Brookings finds:

  • 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. Less than 1-in-5 (14%) say they should be permitted to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, while approximately 1-in-5 (21%) agree that they should be identified and deported. 
  • 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. 
  • Americans rank immigration reform sixth out of seven issues, far behind economic issues, as the highest political priority for the president and Congress. 
  • Nearly half (45%) of Americans say the Republican Party’s position on immigration has hurt the party in recent elections. 
  • Americans are more likely to say they trust the Democratic Party, rather than the Republican Party, to do a better job handling the issues of immigration (39% vs. 29%) and illegal immigration (43% vs. 30%). However, nearly 1-in-4 (23%) Americans say they do not trust either party to handle the issue of immigration. 
  • Views about immigrants’ impact on American society are strongly associated with political ideology. Conservatives (36%) and liberals (31%) are nearly equally as likely to say that immigrants are changing their own communities a lot. How­ever, conservatives (53%) are significantly more likely than liberals (38%) to say that immigrants are changing American society a lot. 
  • 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.