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Two Key Points on Executive Action & Immigration from Recent Polling

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Below are two key points and insights from recent polling in the wake of President Obama’s executive action on immigration:

1.      Most Americans support the substance of President Obama’s new immigration policies and oppose Republican attempts to block or overturn them

  • Public Religion Research Institute: A new poll from PRRI found that by a 72%-27% margin, Americans favor executive action described as, “allowing illegal immigrants who are the parents of children with legal status to stay in the U.S. for three years without being subject to deportation if they pass a background check and have lived in the country at least five years,” (82% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 62% of Republicans support).  When asked to judge the appropriateness of the action, a combined 59% of Americans said either the action was “about right” (33%) or “did not go far enough” (26%), versus only 34% who said it “went too far.”  In response to a question stating, “Given that Congress has not yet acted to address the immigration issue, do you think President Obama should or should not have taken executive action on immigration?” 50% said yes while 45% said no.  The public also strongly favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as the poll found 58% of Americans support a pathway to citizenship provided they meet certain requirements, 19% support legal residency but not citizenship, and just 20% support deportation.
  • CNN/ORC: According to a late November CNN/ORC poll, 72% of Americans believe the policy changes are either “about right” (50%) or “not far enough” (22%), while 26% say it goes “too far.”  Sixty percent of Americans in the CNN/ORC poll say Republicans should not sue to try to stop Obama’s immigration plans, and 76% say they should spend their time trying to pass a comprehensive reform bill rather than trying to stop the President from acting.  Additionally, President Obama’s numbers on his handling of immigration issues rose ten points since September, according to CNN/ORC polling.
  • Hart Research: A Hart Research poll from late November found by a 67%-28% margin, Americans support action to “direct immigration enforcement officials to focus on threats to national security and public safety, and not on deporting otherwise law-abiding immigrants.  Immigrants who are parents of children who are legal US residents could qualify to stay and work temporarily in the United States, without being deported, if they have lived in the United States for at least five years, pay taxes, and pass a criminal background check.”  This description of executive action received support from 91% of Democrats, 67% of independents, and 41% of Republicans.  Additionally, the public opposes potential Republican countermeasures – by a 72%-24% margin, voters are opposed to Republicans shutting down the government until the president agrees to end his executive action and by a 63%-32% margin, voters oppose impeachment proceedings.  After hearing a detailed debate over executive action, voters supported executive action by an even larger margin, 69% to 27%, while also saying they had more confidence in President Obama (44%) than in Republicans in Congress (35%) to deal with immigration.
  • Gallup: A late November Gallup tracking poll shows that the President’s approval rating among all voters has actually risen five percentage points since earlier in that month, rather than cratering as many had predicted.

2.      Latino voters are overwhelmingly in favor of executive action and fired up to defend the win 

  • Public Religion Research Institute: In their early December poll, PRRI found that Latino voters overwhelmingly support executive action and that Latino voter enthusiasm for President Obama had jumped significantly.  An overwhelming 89% of Latino voters in the PRRI poll support the description of executive action (the same percentage Latino Decisions found in their polling).  As the PRRI poll write-up states, “In the wake of the high profile announcement about the executive action on immigration, President Obama’s job approval rating among Hispanics increased significantly. Currently, more than 6-in-10 (62%) Hispanics say they approve of the job Obama is doing as President—a marked uptick from October 2014 when fewer than half (46%) of Hispanics expressed approval.”  Additionally, Latino voters are paying attention to the executive action debate – PRRI found that 40% of Latinos said they have heard a lot about the executive action announcement and an additional 45% said they have heard “a little.”
  • Latino Decisions: According to a recent Latino Decisions poll, 89% of Latino voters (including 95% of Latino Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans) support the president’s executive action on immigration.  Large majorities also think Republicans in Congress bear the brunt of responsibility for the lack of progress on immigration (64%) and oppose Republicans’ attempts to obstruct the Administration’s new plans by filing lawsuits (74%) or restricting funding (80%).
  • Gallup: Numbers from Gallup’s weekly tracking poll show that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration have reignited his popularity among Latino voters.  As Roque Planas captures in the Huffington Post, “President Barack Obama’s approval rating among Hispanics shot up 10 points to 68 percent after he announced his administration would offer deportation relief to an estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants…His approval rating among Latinos has hovered in the fifties since May of this year, dropping to a low point of 44 percent in the first week of September,” which was right after the announced delay on executive action.