According to a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, a significant majority of Americans (63 percent) supports immigration reform that includes an ultimate pathway to citizenship.
Despite the likelihood that such a provision would be described by some on the right as dread "amnesty," the poll found a full 60 percent of Republicans — as well as 57 percent of independents and 73 percent of Democrats — support a pathway. Support held strong across religious affiliations, too.
The report also polled two different versions of a pathway — one with requirements like learning English, paying back taxes, and passing a background check; and one without — and found that support stayed at a strong 59 percent with no requirements, while rocketing up to a full 71 percent when requirements were included.
Unsurprisingly, these requirements were most important to GOP respondents, whose support for a pathway dwindled to around 40 percent when no requirements were mentioned, and increased to 62 percent when they were.
In June, the Senate passed a broad bipartisan bill with a 13-year pathway to citizenship that includes the hurdles mentioned in the poll: paying back taxes and passing English tests and criminal background checks. House leaders have said they will not take up that measure, but will address immigration issues in smaller bills. Several House Republican leaders have said they are drafting measures that would provide “lawful status” for many unauthorized immigrants but no “special path” to citizenship.
According to the report, nearly seven in 10 Americans believe the 13-year wait for citizenship under the Senate bill is too long, while 24 percent said it was just right.
The institute found that Americans living in Ohio — the home state of Speaker John A. Boehner, a Republican — are significantly more likely than those in Arizona and Florida to say “things have gotten worse” in the country over all and to hold negative views of immigrants. Nevertheless, the surveys found similarly broad agreement in all three states on a pathway to citizenship, with 60 percent of Ohio residents favoring that approach.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans — 65 percent — say the United States’ immigration system is either completely or mostly broken. Those who say it is “completely broken” have increased to 34 percent from 23 percent in March, according to the report.