40,000-Person PRRI Immigration Polling Finds Majority in All 50 States Back Citizenship over Deportation
New immigration polling released today again reminds us that the Trump Administration’s approach to immigration enforcement, characterized by indiscriminate deportations and unrelenting hostility to legalization, is as unpopular as it is radical. The results of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) “2016 American Values Atlas,” comprised of 40,000 interviews in all 50 states, finds that a majority of residents in each state back citizenship over deportation and overwhelming support for legalizing, instead of deporting, undocumented immigrants.
Nationwide, when asked their preferred policy for undocumented immigrants, a combined 79% of Americans in the 40,000-sample PRRI polling backed either a path to citizenship (supported by a whopping 64% of the public) or permanent legal residency (15%) while only 16% supported the option embraced by the Trump Administration – identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
In every state and across ideological and political lines, Americans are clear that they want undocumented immigrants to be able to legalize and eventually gain citizenship. The Trump Administration’s deportation-focused approach panders to a small minority of nativists at the expense of the overwhelming wishes of Americans and the best interests of the country.
As PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones noted in the press release accompanying their findings:
Lost amid the current rhetoric surrounding immigration reform is one fact: Very few Americans prefer deporting the 11 million immigrants currently living in the country illegally. Even majorities of Republicans and those living in the reddest states favor allowing these immigrants a chance to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements.
Among the key findings in the massive-sample PRRI poll:
- In all 50 states, majority of public backs a path to citizenship: As PRRI assesses in its accompanying poll summary, “A majority of residents in every state—including states that strongly supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election—favor allowing immigrants living in the country illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements. Even among residents in largely conservative states, most prefer providing a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally. States exhibiting the lowest support tend to be clustered in the South and Midwest, though even those states show majority support. Nearly six in ten (57 percent) residents of Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, and West Virginia favor a policy offering citizenship. Even in Wyoming, the state with the lowest support for a path to citizenship, a majority (55 percent) support such a policy. Only about one in three (32 percent) Wyoming residents favor a policy of deportation.”
- Even Republicans back citizenship over deportation: As PRRI writes: Majorities of both Democrats (75 percent) and Republicans (55 percent) favor a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. Less than one in five Democrats (15 percent) and Republicans (13 percent) support granting such immigrants permanent legal residency. Notably, Republicans are more than three times as likely as Democrats to say immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally should be identified and deported (28 percent vs. 8 percent, respectively).
- Support for citizenship has remained overwhelming and durable over recent years: The immigration results in PRRI’s 2016 American Values Atlas do not differ significantly from earlier years’ findings, despite the rise of Trump and the salience of immigration as a key issue. As PRRI notes, “Views on immigration reform have remained largely unchanged since 2013.”
- The PRRI findings echo those of numerous other polls in recent years. Recent 2016 and 2017 polling from Quinnipiac, Pew Research, New York Times/CBS, Washington Post/ABC News, CNN, Gallup, and even Fox News each found that between 72% and 88% of Americans back either citizenship or legalization for undocumented immigrants over deportation.