tags: , Polling

Independent Poll: Americans Strongly Support New Immigration Policies, Favor Path to Legal Status and Citizenship and Oppose Republican Attempts to Block Executive Actions

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New polling from the highly-regarded Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) finds that the American public supports the President’s executive actions on immigration, prefers that Congress focus on passing immigration reform rather than trying to undo the immigration executive actions, and strongly supports a path to legal status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Among the key PRRI poll findings:

  • ]Americans support last November’s executive actions by a 52-42% margin (a slight uptick in support for executive action since PRRI asked the same question in December 2014).  
  • Additionally, as the PRRI poll recap states, despite some vocal opposition “to Obama’s use of executive action, the substance of the policy remains popular,” finding that when provided with a detailed description of last November’s executive actions, by a 76-19% margin, Americans favor of “allowing illegal immigrants who are the parents of children with legal status to stay in the U.S. for a period of up to three years if they pass a background check and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years.” 
  • By a 73-17% margin, Americans prefer Congress pass a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill rather than legislation designed to overturn immigration executive action (85% of Democrats, 73% of Independents, and 62% of Republicans favor a CIR-focused approach instead of one focused on repealing executive action).  
  • Finally, PRRI continues to find broad and durable support for a pathway to citizenship and minimal support for a deportation-focused policy: 78% of the public supports either a path to citizenship (59%) or legalization without citizenship (19%), while only 18% support a deportation-focused policy for undocumented immigrants in America.

The PRRI poll joins an array of recent public opinion and polling with similar findings (see an aggregate summary of recent polling on the topic by clicking here).

Notably, despite the stated desire of the American public, Republicans in the House and Senate have been continuing to try – and fail – to attach measures designed to block President Obama’s immigration executive actions to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill.  They have refused to allow a vote on a “clean” bill that would keep the Department funded through the end of the year.  As we count down toward a potential DHS shutdown, Republicans are facing widespread backlash and criticism in conservative, Beltway, and Spanish-language media outlets and are increasingly blaming each other and seeking a way out of the debacle.

One Republican who gets it is Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ).  In a Senate floor speech, Senator Flake made a strong case for Republicans to advance a clean DHS bill and separately advance an immigration reform bill, saying:

To attempt to use a spending bill in order to try to poke a finger in the President’s eye is not a good move in my view.  I believe that rather than poke the President in the eye we ought to put legislation on his desk, and we ought to use this time, we’ve already used up two weeks trying to attach measures to a funding bill when we could have used this time to actually move actual immigration legislation…We desperately need immigration reform.

Also yesterday, Senator Flake’s GOP colleague, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), called for a clean DHS bill stripped of immigration measures, stating that, “My hope is that we pass it clean now…As the governing party, we should govern.  I would think we should just pass a regular appropriations bill under regular order.”  Senator Kirk’s comments came just one day after he made contradictory and offensive comments seeking to blame Democrats for the GOP’s self-inflicted debacle on DHS funding.  

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

It’s time for Republicans to follow the will of the American people and the advice of Senator Flake and Senator Kirk.  It’s time for Republicans to drop their ill-conceived strategy to threaten homeland security funding, to accept that the American people support the new immigration policies as welcome steps towards the comprehensive reform that is still needed, and to get that they are on the wrong side of history when it comes to what to do with 11 million immigrants settled in America.

Access summary of recent polling and public opinion on immigration, including levels of support for executive action and what congressional focus should be on immigration.