WaPo, Gallup: Wide support for path to citizenship in immigration reform

Two polls today show that immigration-reform proposals offered by a bipartisan group in the Senate enjoy wide support, at least in concept.  The Washington Post approaches the questions in the context of how it impacts Barack Obama’s approval ratings, and they see a turnaround for the President since last summer.  More importantly, though, the key issues of normalization have a significant consensus — but border control even more so:

By 49 to 44 percent, slightly more Americans now approve than disapprove of Obama on immigration. In July, Obama was deep underwater, with just 38 percent offering positive ratings and 52 percent negative.

Even after the shift, though, Obama’s immigration marks continue to trail his overall approval rating, which stood at 55 percent in a January Post-ABC poll.

In addition, two key elements of current reform discussions receive even broader support than Obama: 83 percent support stricter border security, and 55 percent back a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The numbers on normalization look stronger when considering the partisan breakdown.  Not surprisingly, 68% of Democrats favor a path to citizenship as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package.  However, 52% of independents do as well, and so do 42% of Republicans.  That explains why the GOP may be rethinking its opposition to this policy, as those numbers have continued to grow.

On border security, the numbers are definitely in the GOP’s favor.  Democrats had the lowest approval for “stricter border control” …. at 76%.  Eighty-five percent of independents backed stricter border control, and 92% of Republicans.  If the GOP has to give on normalization, they have plenty of opportunity to insist on meaningful reform of border control as a prerequisite.

Gallup finds similar numbers in its survey:

At least two-thirds of Americans favor each of five specific measures designed to address immigration issues — ranging from 68% who would vote for increased government spending on security measures and enforcement at U.S. borders, to 85% who would vote for a requirement that employers verify the immigration status of all new hires. More than seven in 10 would vote for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants now living in this country. …

Republicans are more widely in favor than independents or Democrats of laws that would require employers to verify the immigration status of new hires, and that would increase spending on border security. Democrats are more widely in favor of a law that would provide a pathway to legal residency and citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. and a law that would provide additional visas for immigrants who have needed technology and science skills. The partisan differences in support for tracking the departures of foreigners coming into the country are smaller.

In fact, Gallup finds a majority of Republicans backing a path to citizenship as part of normalization — 59%.  All political affiliations gave majority support for each of the components of the comprehensive reform package floated last week in the Senate:


The trend shows that after nearly a decade of fighting over this issue, voters want Congress to start producing solutions. For Republicans, though, border security has to be a solid win before moving on to the normalization process.