The majority of Americans support immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to the findings of a new survey released by the Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute. At 63 percent, this share of Americans is three times the number of those who say that deportation is the answer to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Perhaps most surprisingly, however, is that this majority in favor of reform with a path to citizenship cuts across all political and religious lines. More than half of Democrats, Independents, Republicans, Mormons and white evangelicals—and even a plurality of Tea Party members—support this type of policy. Jews are also one of the groups most in favor of immigration reform, with 67 percent indicating their support for such measures.
The study, “Citizenship, Values & Cultural Concerns: What Americans Want From Immigration Reform,” surveyed 4,500 Americans, making it one of the largest surveys on immigration ever conducted. Additional findings include:
- 71 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Independents and 53 percent of Republicans favor immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
- Within the GOP, a plurality of Tea Party members support reform with a path to citizenship, as do 56 percent of Republicans from red states
- 74 percent of Hispanic Catholics, 71 percent of Hispanic Protestants, 70 percent of black Protestants, 67 percent of Jews, 63 percent of Mormons, 62 percent of white Catholics, 61 percent of mainline Protestants and 56 percent of white evangelicals voiced their support for immigration reform with a path to citizenship
- Most Americans are likely to have a positive view of immigrants—54 percent say the growing number of immigrants helps to strengthen American society, and only 27 percent say that immigrants are taking jobs away from American citizens
- A minority of Americans support “self-deportation” policy—making conditions for undocumented immigrants so difficult that they return to their home country on their own—which Mitt Romney endorsed during the 2012 election, while two-thirds do not believe that this is the best way to solve the country’s immigration policy
- At 45 percent, nearly half of Americans say the Republicans’ stance on immigration hurt the Party in the recent election, while only seven percent say it helped them
- While Americans by and large have a favorable perception of immigrants, most do not think that immigration reform is the highest priority for President Obama and the Congress right now, and say that improving the job situation and reducing the deficit are more important issues to tackle
- Only 28 percent of Americans know that the number of deportations has increased under the Obama administration
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