A new poll shows more than seven in 10 Americans support policies that would pave a path toward citizenship or residency for undocumented immigrants.
Seventy-two percent say they favor allowing those here illegally to become legal residents or citizens if they meet certain requirements, according to the Gallup survey released Thursday.
That Gallup poll was conducted at the end of January, shortly after President Barack Obama and members of Congress began resurrecting immigration reform as a top issue on the legislative agenda.
A strong majority of Americans support four other measures of potential reform, including:
- Requiring employers to verify that all new hires are living in the U.S. legally (85% approve)
- Creating a system to track the departure of foreigners who enter the U.S. through airports and seaports (71% approve)
- Increase the number of visas for legal immigrants who have advanced skills in technology and science (71% approve)
- Increase government spending on security measures and enforcement at U.S. borders (68% approve)
Also of note, a majority of Republicans support all five measures asked about in the poll, including 59% who favor a chance to become legal residents or citizens.
The survey comes as Obama and Congress have pushed immigration reform to the forefront of national dialogue in recent days. Obama met with labor leaders and CEOs at the White House Tuesday to discuss the issue and traveled to Las Vegas last week to highlight his own proposals.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders have also been calling for major reform. A bipartisan group of eight senators, including Republican Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio, last week laid out their framework for immigration reform, which includes a pathway to citizenship.
The so-called Gang of Eight's plan would call for border security measures to a higher priority than building a pathway to citizenship, but the Gallup survey shows that Americans "give roughly equal support to both."
Obama has said he'd like to see legislation pass in the first half of the year and vows to introduce a bill of his own should Congress fail to act. The bottom line is that both parties largely agree reform should take place, though they disagree on the details.
Gallup surveyed 1,019 adults by telephone from January 30-31, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.