Poll: Majority support pathway to citizenship in immigration reform

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A rally for immigration reform.

A solid majority of U.S. voters favors immigration reform that includes a path to earned citizenship for current undocumented immigrants and strong accountability measures, according to a bipartisan poll.

The survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and Hart Research Associates, a Democratic firm. It included polling of 1,003 registered voters and was sponsored by Service Employees International Union, America’s Voice Education Fund and National Immigration Forum.

The poll showed voters want a long-term fix for the immigration system that includes a path to full citizenship for immigrants here without proper papers.

Almost four out of five voters said they support a system that requires immigrants to pay taxes, holds employers accountable for hiring legal workers and prevents them from exploiting immigrant labor, improves border security and ensures that undocumented immigrants have a chance to work towards citizenship.

The plan is favored across partisan, ideological, regional and ethnic groups.

When asked directly about support for creating a path to full citizenship for immigrants versus temporary status, 87 percent of voters said, “It would be better to give people a chance to eventually earn citizenship at some point after they register for legal status, pass a background check, learn English, and pay taxes.” Seven  percent said, “They should be allowed to qualify for legal status and work in the United States but should never be given the chance to earn citizenship.”

Support for citizenship was strong across party lines, including 83 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Independents.

The survey also found that three out of four voters agree the current system is not working well and almost half of the respondents said that fixing the immigration system is a very high or high priority.

Hart Research president Geoff Garin said, “There is a clear message in these findings that Americans from across the political spectrum understand the need for broad-based immigration reform, and if Congress acts on a comprehensive plan the public is ready to support it.”

Public Opinion co-founder Bill McInturff said, “This survey tells us addressing concerns like taxes and border security helps create the foundation for a plan that many voters see as ‘accountable.’ This is particularly important to Republicans and Independents to support immigration reform.”

Responding for the National Immigration Forum, Jeb Bush Jr., a member of the group’s board, said, “The results of this poll confirm that Americans of all political stripes agree that the current patchwork of immigration policies is not working for our nation’s best interests. I’m encouraged to see that a strong majority of Republican voters recognize the need for a long term solution that includes a path to citizenship.”