Major Special Topics Surveys Print

Survey | What Americans (Still) Want From Immigration Reform

[11.25.2013]

Read the full report here.
 Read the August 2013 Religion and Politics Tracking poll topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here.
 Read the November 2013 Religion and Politics Tracking poll topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here.
 Read the Religion, Values, & Immigration Reform Survey, here.
 Read the April 2013 Religion and Politics Tracking Poll, here.
 Read the Ohio Values Survey, here.
Read the news release here.

Executive Summary

2013.Immigration Phase2.COVER  320x414 Survey | What Americans (Still) Want From Immigration Reform

Download the full report in PDF.

Throughout 2013, there has been consistent bipartisan and cross-religious support for creating a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States. Today, 63% of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 14% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, and roughly 1-in-5 (18%) favor a policy that would identify and deport all immigrants living in the United States illegally. This support for a path to citizenship has remained unchanged from earlier this year, when in both March and August 2013 an identical number (63%) supported a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.

  • Roughly 6-in-10 Republicans (60%) and independents (57%) and approximately 7-in- 10 (73%) Democrats favor a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.
  • Majorities of white evangelical Protestants (55%), white mainline Protestants (60%), Catholics (62%), minority Protestants (69%), and the religiously unaffiliated (64%) also favor a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.

1.Immigration Reform 640x476 Survey | What Americans (Still) Want From Immigration Reform

Despite having different experiences with immigrants, there is remarkable consistency in support for immigration reform policy across key states.

  • Roughly 6-in-10 Ohioans (60%), Floridians (61%), and Arizonans (64%) favor a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.
  • More than 6-in-10 (61%) Americans favor the DREAM Act, which would allow immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children a way to attain legal resident status by joining the military or going to college, while 34% oppose. The profiles of Ohio (60% favor, 34% oppose), Arizona (64% favor, 36% oppose), and Florida (64% favor, 33% oppose) residents look nearly identical to all Americans on this question.

Compared to earlier this year, Americans are now significantly more likely to say the U.S. immigration system is completely broken.

  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. immigration system is either completely broken (34%) or mostly broken but working in some areas (31%).
  • In March 2013, more than 6-in-10 Americans said the immigration system was completely broken (23%) or mostly broken but working in some areas (40%).

Between March 2013 and today, there has been no significant shift in Americans’ opinions about how high a priority immigration reform should be for President Obama and Congress.

  • Roughly 4-in-10 (41%) Americans believe immigration policy should be an immediate priority for President Obama and be a priority during the next couple of years. Only 14% of Americans say it should not be a priority at all. Notably, Hispanic Americans (55%) are significantly more likely than both white Americans (38%) and black Americans (39%) to say immigration policy should be an immediate priority for President Obama and Congress.
  • In March 2013, 37% reported that immigration policy should be an immediate priority for the president and Congress, while 46% said it should be a priority over the next couple of years, and only 17% said it should not be a priority.

Using a controlled survey experiment, PRRI found survey questions that make no mention of requirements immigrants living in the country illegally must meet produce lower support for a path to citizenship than questions that do mention requirements, especially among more conservative groups such as Republicans and white evangelical Protestants.

  • When there is no mention of requirements that immigrants living in the country illegally must meet, nearly 6-in-10 (59%) Americans support a path to citizenship.
  • When the question mentions “certain requirements” that immigrants living in the country illegally must meet, nearly 7-in-10 (68%) Americans support a path to citizenship.
  • When the question references specific requirements such as paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check, 71% support a path to citizenship.

There is general consensus across religious and political lines that the proposed 13-year waiting period is too long. Nearly 7-in-10 (68%) Americans feel that a 13-year waiting period for someone to receive citizenship is too long, roughly one-quarter (24%) say this length of time is about right, and only 5% report that it is too short.

6b.Fines  640x512 Survey | What Americans (Still) Want From Immigration Reform

More Americans than not (43%) say that an estimated $4,000 per person in mandatory fines and fees is too much, although a substantial minority (35%) say this amount is about right. Only 16% of Americans believe that $4,000 in fines and fees is too little.

Americans are divided on the issue of increasing border security to include adding 20,000 new border control agents and 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico at an estimated cost of $46 billion. Nearly half (49%) are in favor of this proposal, while nearly as many (45%) are opposed.

Read the full report here.
 Read the August 2013 Religion and Politics Tracking poll topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here.
 Read the November 2013 Religion and Politics Tracking poll topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here.
 Read the Religion, Values, & Immigration Survey, here.
 Read the April 2013 Religion and Politics Tracking Poll, here.
 Read the Ohio Values Survey, here.
Read the news release here.