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How Each State Feels About Immigration Reform
Jessica Walthall,

In just the last few months, immigration reform has dominated the headlines. After Congress failed to pass comprehensive policies, President Obama exercised his executive power late last year and introduced a new program that would allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to obtain temporary work authorization to remain in the country. The plan also expands the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which gives deportation relief and work authorization to unaccompanied immigrant children. Up to 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. could be affected by the plan.

Twenty-six states are suing President Obama as a result, making the issue of immigration reform more relevant than ever. And with parties preparing for the 2016 presidential election, candidates’ stances on immigration reform policy will play a major role.

But what do average Americans want from immigration reform policy? Answering this question is just one of the many things PRRI’s newly updated American Values Atlas (AVA) can do.

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PRRI AVA Immigration-Policy-D copy

AVA respondents were asked whether they favored a path to citizenship after meeting certain requirements, permanent legal residency but not citizenship, or identification and deportation, concerning illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. These are the stats, state by state, on what they said.

A majority (60 percent) of Americans support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. Even the state least supportive of this policy—Wyoming—shows a majority of support for Obama’s executive action on immigration: 52 percent of Wyoming residents favor a path to citizenship for immigrants.

Delaware (66 percent), Kansas (65 percent), and Vermont (65 percent) rank highest in support. Many of the “border states,” such as California, Arizona, and New Mexico, also report strong support at 63 percent. Alaska (56 percent), Louisiana (54 percent), and Wyoming (52 percent), show the lowest support for such a policy.

Additionally, the AVA tells us that Americans have consistently favored a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants over time. We surveyed about 1,000 Americans every week from April 2014 to December 2014 and created a trend line for support across the past nine months. Support from Americans overall was at its lowest in September 2014 at 56 percent and peaked in December at 65 percent, bookending President Obama’s announcement of executive action in November.

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PRRI AVA Immigration-Policy-D table

Explore more of the AVA here—including how each region and metro area feels about immigration reform policy. The AVA also features region-, state-, and city-specific data on religious and political affiliation, as well as public opinion on same-sex marriage and abortion.

Read through our 50-state reference guides on views of immigrantssame-sex marriage, and availability and legality of abortion.