A new poll by the Pew Research Center has found that most Americans believe undocumented immigrants should get the opportunity to become legal residents. The findings come at a time where efforts to effectuate immigration reform has stalled in Washington D.C.
There are an estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., the majority of which are Latino.
The poll, conducted amongst 1,821 adults, found that 73 percent of Americans polled are in support of having undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S. under some sort of legal mechanism. The overwhelming support for having the undocumented stay in this country legally as U.S. citizens is not as strong but almost near a majority.
On the other hand, 24 percent of Americans were opposed to giving any form of legal status to the undocumented. Surprisingly Republicans polled were overwhelmingly in support of legal residency for the undocumented. 64 percent of Republicans support the undocumented staying in the country but the overwhelming support stopped short of making them U.S. citizens. Overall, only 46 percent of Americans want the undocumented put on a path to citizenship – something the Democrats have made a make-or-break issue.
The most divisive issue around immigration reform appears to be American’s view of deportations. The number of deportations has been on the rise, reaching a record high in 2012 at 400,000. Last year nearly 370,000 undocumented immigrants were deported. The Pew poll shows that 45 percent of Americans view the increase in deportations that tend to split up families, as a bad thing for America. A majority of Republicans, 55 percent viewed deportations as a good thing.
Even though a growing number of Americans support the legalization of undocumented immigrants only half of Americans think passing comprehensive immigration reform is important. Only 49 percent of American say new immigration legislation is extremely or very important for the country.
Latinos/Hispanics, not surprisingly, strongly support comprehensive immigration reform and view it as a critical issue. 72 percent say the issue is extremely or very important to them.