Most Americans, regardless of political party, believe illegal immigrants should have a path to citizenship, a poll published Thursday shows
The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, showed two thirds of all Americans believe in giving immigrants the opportunity for a legal citizenship status. Support came from 71 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans polled.
However, the survey showed that only 14 percent of Americans believe illegal immigrants should be given legal residency without having to go through a path to citizenship. More people, 21 percent, believed illegal immigrants should be identified and deported.
The far-reaching poll questioned 4,465 adults through bilingual landline and cell phone interviews, and revealed that Hispanics overwhelmingly support giving earned citizenship to immigrants. Majorities of people from all religions favored earned citizenship, but Hispanics overwhelmingly supported the move, with 74 percent of Hispanic Catholics and 71 percent of Protestants approving.
Support was also strong among other groups, with 71 percent of black Protestants and 67 percent of Jewish Americans approving. A majority of 56 percent of white evangelical Protestants, considered the most conservative polled, also approved, as long as illegals meet certain requirements.
The immigration issue is also affecting politics, the poll said. Nearly half polled said the Republican Party was hurt in recent elections by its views on immigration, with only 7 percent saying the position helped the GOP.
However, despite election results that gave President Barack Obama 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in November, only 39 percent of Hispanic Americans polled said the GOP's positions hurt it in the election, and 41 percent said immigration did not make a difference. But most Hispanics said immigration legislation should be the government's top priority.
The poll also showed Americans are divided over whether immigrants benefit the country. Fifty-four percent said new immigrants help make the economy stronger, but 40 percent said foreigners threaten American traditions.
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