The Public Policy Institute of California conducted a statewide poll of 2,002 Californian residents from March 9 to 16, 2010. The margin of error was +/- 2%.
Strong majorities of all adults and likely voters in California believe immigration policy in the United States is in need of major changes. Sixty-eight percent of all respondents agreed with the statement that “immigration policy in the United States is in need of major changes,” with an even stronger majority of likely voters (72%) agreeing with the sentiment. Voters across parties agree: 73% of Republicans, 68% of Democrats, and 67% of independents say major changes are needed. Over two-thirds of Latinos (74%) and whites (69%) believe immigration policy needs major changes.
Seventy percent of Californians want a path to legal status for most undocumented immigrants. Seventy percent of respondents agreed that undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for at least two years should be allowed to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status. Only 25% believe those immigrants should be deported back to their native countries. Majorities of Democrats and independents favor legalization over deportation, while Republicans are divided. Nearly all Latinos (90%) and 62% of whites prefer giving undocumented working immigrants a chance to stay in the United States. Of those who believe major changes are needed to immigration policy, 67% prefer legalization over deportation.
A majority of Californians believe immigrants are a benefit to the state. A majority of all adults (54%) say that immigrants living in California are a benefit to the state because of their hard work and job skills. Thirty-nine percent of Californians, on the other hand, said that immigrants are a burden because they use public services. This issue divides voters along party lines; 64% of Democrats and 52% of independents say that immigrants are a benefit, while 68% of Republicans say they are a burden. Of those who call immigrants a benefit, 63% believe major changes are needed to U.S. policy and 89% support a pathway to legal status. Of those who call them a burden, 78% say major changes are needed and fewer than half—45% —support a pathway to legalization (49% favor deportation).