A new poll shows that more Americans support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. and allowing them a chance to become citizens. (Photo : Reuters)
By the numbers, it looks like a majority--a slim one--support the idea of giving undocumented immigrants permission to apply for U.S. citizenship and stay in the country.
A new poll released from CBS News this week shows that 51 percent of Americans polled by the news agency think that undocumented immigrants living and working in the country should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship.
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Another 20 percent believe that they should only be able to stay as guest workers and another 24 percent feel that such immigrants should leave the U.S. altogether.
The poll, released Monday, comes around the same time as the release of a new comprehensive legislation agreement on immigration policy that was drawn up by U.S. Senate Democrats and Republicans. The legislation compromise would include a pathway to citizenship as well as enhanced measures on border security.
Roughly 14 percent more polled in the survey support undocumented immigrants being able to apply for citizenship than those polled in 2011 by CBS; back then, 38 percent voted that such immigrants should be forced to leave the U.S.
However, the most interesting results were along political lines.
Among those who supported giving undocumented immigrants the right to become citizens, 66 percent of Democrats supported it, as well as 35 percent of Republicans. For the guest worker option, 35 percent of Republicans voted in favor of that, as did 17 percent of Democrats. And for the option of forcing such immigrants to leave the U.S., 36 percent of Republicans polled agreed to that, along with 13 percent of Democrats in the survey.
However, the poll notes, support across party lines for allowing said immigrants to become citizens has increased since 2011.
"Among Democrats, support has gone up 15 points since September 2011. Republican support has risen from 24% to 35% now," the poll notes. The poll was conducted from Jan. 24 to Jan. 27 and has a three-point margin of error.
Politically, this issue has been one of the most divisive among Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats largely supporting a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants via sweeping changes in broad legislation, while some Republicans have proposed a piecemeal solution to immigration while calling for tougher border security and measures that penalize businesses who hire undocumented immigrants for labor.
President Obama is due Tuesday to deliver a speech on immigration policy in Las Vegas that outlines his previous proposal to include a pathway to citizenship in broad immigration legislation.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned Obama to reconsider opposing the tighter border security measures pitched by the group of senators--of which Rubio was one--in their proposal.