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Majority of Americans Want Real Reform

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Among Americans, Support for Earned Legalization Is High

  • A May 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants has risen from 58% in 2007 to 63% in 2009.
  • 61% of respondents to a March 2009 telephone survey conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News supported giving undocumented immigrants the right to live in the U.S. “if they pay a fine and meet other requirements.” In 2007, roughly 49% of people supported giving undocumented immigrants the right to live in the country; that number has grown by 12% over two years. 59% of Republicans support this position, up from 42% in 2007, while 68% of Democrats expressed their support, up from 59% in 2007.
  • According to a May 2009 poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group (BSG), support for comprehensive immigration reform has remained stable and strong since a previous poll taken in November 2008.  Both polls show that about 68% of voters support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that would require them to register, meet certain conditions, and become legal taxpayers.
  • In the same poll, an overwhelming majority of voters—71 percent—believe that we would be better off if undocumented immigrants took steps to become legal taxpayers rather than being deported. Only 26% of voters believe that deportation would be better for Americans than legalization.

Majorities of Independents and Republicans Also Favor Comprehensive Immigration Reform

  • The May 2009 BSG poll showed bipartisan support for comprehensive reform.  62% of Republicans, 63% of Independents and 67% of Democrats support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
  • The March 2009 Washington Post survey showed strong support for legalization of undocumented immigrants across all political affiliations. The number of Democrats supporting the program increased from 59% in 2007 to 68% in 2009, while the number of Republicans who expressed support jumped from 42% in 2007 to 59% in 2009. In the 2009 poll, 59% of Independents also said they would support the program.

Americans Believe That the Status Quo Is Unacceptable, and Congress Must Fix Our Broken Immigration System

  • 75% of respondents to the May 2009 BSG poll believe Congress should tackle immigration reform in 2009. 57% of respondents said that the poor economy makes it more crucial that Congress address immigration reform, as opposed to the 39% who believed it was not the right time. In general, voters support a Member of Congress willing to tackle immigration more than one who will not.
  • According to polls of voters conducted by Lake Research Partners and BSG after the 2008 election, 46% believed enacting immigration reform was a high priority. Only 15% of voters considered it a low priority, while 37% said it was medium.

Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Mass Deportation and Enforcement-Only Policies

  • A CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted in October 2009 found that only 37 percent of respondents wanted to see all illegal immigrants deported.
  • A May 2009 BSG poll indicates that only 20% of voters believed that those undocumented should be required to leave; 10% believe that they should be allowed to stay temporarily.
  • According to the BSG/Lake Research Partners November 2008 post-election poll, voters preferred a comprehensive approach to immigration reform over enforcement of current legislation by a 27% margin.