Immigration Reform

NBC/WSJ Poll: Nearly Half Oppose Executive Action on Immigration

Image: Supporters of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio hold a rally at a park in Fountain Hills

Supporters of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio hold a rally at a park in Fountain Hills, Arizona April 28, 2012. Arpaio, who styles himself as "America's toughest sheriff," is known for controversial sweeps cracking down on illegal immigrants in the Mexico border state. Earlier this month the Obama administration said it was preparing to sue him and his department for violating civil rights laws by improperly targeting Latinos. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION) ERIC THAYER / Reuters

Nearly half of Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama’s expected plan to take executive action that would potentially allow millions of undocumented immigrants to stay legally in the United States, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Forty-eight percent oppose Obama taking executive action on immigration -- which could come as soon as later this week -- while 38 percent support it; another 14 percent have no opinion or are unsure.

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Not surprisingly, these numbers largely break along partisan lines: 63 percent of Democrats approve of Obama taking executive action here, versus just 11 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of independents.

Latinos are divided, with 43 percent supporting the action and 37 percent opposing it. But the sample size here is small (just 110 Latino respondents), so the numbers have a high margin of error.

As NBC News has previously reported, the Obama White House is finalizing a set of proposals to allow as many as five million undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally, including the parents of children who are American citizens and those with high-tech skills.

The new NBC/WSJ poll also finds a majority of Americans (57 percent) favoring a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and that increases to 74 percent when respondents are told that such a pathway requires paying fines and back taxes, as well as passing a security background check.

In June 2013, the U.S. Senate -- by a bipartisan 68-32 vote -- passed legislation creating this pathway for undocumented immigrants, plus bolstering security of the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the GOP-controlled House of Representatives declined to take up the legislation -- or even to pass its own bill.

And that is what has spurred President Obama's decision to take executive action.

The rest of the NBC/WSJ poll -- which was conducted Nov. 14-17 and has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points -- will be released at 6:30 pm ET.