Monthly Religion News Surveys Print

Survey | Republicans and Evangelicals Support a Path to Citizenship With Basic Requirements for Immigrants Living in Country Illegally

Topics:
[04.16.2013]

 

Read the news release here.
Read the topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here.

An innovative new survey using a controlled experiment, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with The Brookings Institution, clarifies the impact of wording differences in recent public polling on immigration reform. The survey found that the inclusion of general or specific requirements that immigrants currently living in the country illegally must meet has a significant impact on support for a path to citizenship, especially among more conservative groups such as Republicans or white evangelical Protestants.

The survey experiment randomly divided the entire sample of respondents (n=2,018) into three demographically identical subgroups, and then asked each group slightly different versions of a question about a path to citizenship.

Survey Experiment Design

Experimental Group A

No Requirements

N=646

Experimental Group B

General Requirements

N=673

Experimental Group C

Specific Requirements

N=699

Allowing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally to become U.S. citizens. Allowing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally to become U.S. citizens,provided they meet certain requirements. Allowing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally to become U.S. citizens,provided they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check.

 

Experimental Group A (No Requirements). When there is no mention of requirements that immigrants living in the country illegally must meet, a majority (59%) of Americans support a path to citizenship, compared to 35% who oppose.  There are large partisan and religious differences:

  • While nearly 7-in-10 Democrats (69%) and more than 6-in-10 Independents (63%) support a path to citizenship with no mention of requirements, only 39% of Republicans favor a policy when requirements are not mentioned.
  • Similarly, although 68% of Catholics and 61% of religiously unaffiliated Americans support a path to citizenship with no mention of requirements, less than half of white mainline Protestants (49%) and white evangelical Protestants (45%) are in favor.

Experimental Group B (General Requirements). When the question references “certain requirements” that immigrants living in the country illegally must meet, support rises significantly in the general population, among Democrats and Republicans, and among nearly all major religious groups.  When meeting “certain requirements” is mentioned, support for a path to citizenship rises 9 points to 68%, compared to 27% who oppose it.  There are also large partisan and religious differences here, although notably, majorities of Republicans and white evangelical Protestants favor a path to citizenship that includes general requirements that must be met.

  • Approximately 8-in-10 Democrats (82%) and 64% of Independents support a path to citizenship in which “certain requirements” must be met by immigrants living in the country illegally, as do a majority (54%) of Republicans.
  • Solid majorities of all religious groups, including 72% of religiously unaffiliated Americans, 65% of Catholics, 60% of white evangelical Protestants, and 59% of white mainline Protestants support a path to citizenship that involves “certain requirements.”

Experimental Group C (Specific Requirements). When the question references specific requirements such as “paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check,” support for a path to citizenship is slightly higher in the general population, fueled by significant increases among Republicans.  When specific requirements are mentioned, approximately 7-in-10 (71%) Americans support a path to citizenship, compared to 23% who oppose.

  • More than 8-in-10 Democrats (85%) and 7-in-10 independents (72%) support a path to citizenship with the mention of specific requirements that must be met by immigrants living in the country illegally, as do more than 6-in-10 (62%) Republicans.
  • Approximately 8-in-10 Catholics (78%) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (80%), as well as 64% of white mainline Protestants and 55% of white evangelical Protestants, support a path to citizenship with specific requirements.

GotW Path to Citizen Experiment 4 15 2013 Final Survey | Republicans and Evangelicals Support a Path to Citizenship With Basic Requirements for Immigrants Living in Country Illegally

This survey updates last month’s PRRI/Brookings Religion, Values and Immigration survey, which is one of the largest public opinion surveys on immigration, with nearly 4,500 respondents.

Homepage photo courtesy of Grand Canyon NPS.

Read the news release here.
Read the topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here.