News sources publish stories about immigration daily, yet immigration reform has stalled in Congress just months before the 2014 midterm election. What do Americans currently want from immigration reform? PRRI’s newest survey seeks to answer that very question. In fact, “What Americans Want from Immigration Reform in 2014” highlights consistent majority support for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. At present, 62% of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens as long as they meet certain requirements, while 17% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, and roughly 1-in-5 (19%) favor a policy that would identify and deport all immigrants living in the United States illegally. Current support for a path to citizenship is nearly identical to where it was one year ago (March 2013) when 63% of the public expressed support for a path to citizenship for immigrants who are living in the United States illegally.
Immigration reform has cross-partisan appeal with majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans expressing support for a policy that includes a pathway to citizenship, although there are significant differences in the intensity of support. A majority of Democrats (70%), independents (61%), and Republicans (51%) continue to favor a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. Remarkably, Republicans are roughly three-times more likely than Democrats to favor identifying and deporting all immigrants living in the U.S. illegally (30% vs. 11%). Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement stand out for their lack of support. Less than 4-in-10 (37%) Americans who are part of the Tea Party movement favor allowing immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to become U.S. citizens, while 23% favor allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens; notably, 37% favor a policy that would identify and deport all immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
Majorities of all religious groups, with the exception of white evangelical Protestants, support a path to citizenship, including roughly 6-in-10 white mainline Protestants (58%), minority Protestants (62%) and Catholics (63%), and more than two-thirds (68%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans. Among white evangelical Protestants, nearly half (48%) also favor allowing immigrants living in the U.S. illegally an opportunity to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 18% favor allowing them to become permanent citizens, but not citizens. Nearly one-third (31%) of all white evangelical Protestants say immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be identified and deported.