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POLL: March 2010–Public Religion Research Institute

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The Public Religion Research Institute conducted a national poll of 1,201 American voters from March 5 to 11, 2010. The margin of error for the national sample is +/- 3%.

The current system is widely understood to be broken. Nationally, 56% of Americans of faith say that the immigration system is largely or completely broken.

Americans seek a practical way to deal with the undocumented population.  The poll found 68 percent of participants surveyed said that it is an “extremely serious” or “very serious” problem that “the immigration system has no practical way of dealing with all the illegal immigrants who are already here.”  Only 8% of respondents called the problem “not too serious” or “not at all serious.”

Comprehensive immigration reform is more popular than mass deportation by a 2:1 margin.  When presented with a pair of statements about what we could do to reform immigration, 65% of respondents across all faith traditions said that a practical solution to undocumented immigration was “to require all illegal immigrants to register with the government and meet certain requirements including working, paying taxes and learning English before having the opportunity to apply for citizenship.”   Only 30% said that undocumented immigrants “should not be allowed to become citizens and compete with jobs that are already hard to come by” and should instead be sent back to their home countries.

Support for comprehensive reform is high across all denominations. The poll found,92 percent of Catholics said that they “strongly favor” or “favor” the comprehensive reform proposal outlined above, with 62% saying “strongly favor.” Among white Evangelicals, 89% “strongly favor” or “favor” comprehensive reform, with 66% selecting “strongly favor.” Sixty percent of white mainline Protestants “strongly favor” comprehensive reform, and the combined population of white mainline Protestants who said they “strongly favor” or “favor” the proposal was 86%.

Mass deportation is roundly rejected.  A majority of voters–56%–disagree with the statement that “we should make a serious effort to deport all illegal immigrants back to their home countries.”