Mark A. Smith is professor of Political Science and an adjunct professor of Comparative Religion and Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on economic and religious groups, ideas, and influences in American politics. In his new book, Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics, Dr. Smith argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is and is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them.
While immigration reform legislation has experienced its ups and downs during 2013, recent surveys have shown that American views on immigration have not budged over the course of the year. A new PRRI survey report released yesterday at the American Academy of Religion annual conference found that more than 6-in-10 (63 percent) Americans continue to support allowing immigrants currently living in the United States illegally a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements; 14 percent say they should be allowed to stay but only as legal residents; and roughly 1-in-5 (18 percent) favor identifying and deporting them. Support for the first option—allowing immigrants living in the United States illegally a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements—has remained unchanged since March 2013 (63 percent).
As Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post and others have noted, polling from Quinnipiac University among registered voters—an engaged population subgroup likely paying closer attention to the immigration debate than others—shows a similarly steady pattern of support through 2013. A Quinnipiac survey conducted this month reveals roughly 6-in-10 (57 percent) voters believe immigrants living in the United States illegally should be allowed to stay in the country and eventually apply for citizenship. This view was held by an identical number of voters in early December 2012 (57 percent).
Notably, the patters of support are roughly the same, despite different question wordings and different populations (all Americans vs. registered voters). You can check out the trends on this issue at Pollingreport.com by clicking here.
Whatever the outcome of the legislative debates, recent polling suggests that the failure of immigration reform will not be the result of a public expressing ambivalence about their preferred policy.