Pew: Most Americans Support Legalization For Undocumented Immigrants

by Griselda Nevarez /  / Updated 
Image: A girl holds up a banner while people take part in a rally to demand that Congress fix the broken immigration system at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey
A girl holds up a banner while people take part in a rally to demand that Congress fix the broken immigration system at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, April 6, 2013. EDUARDO MUNOZ / Reuters

With immigration emerging as a major issue ahead of the 2016 presidential election, a new poll by the Pew Research Center found most Americans are in favor of granting legal status for people who are in the country illegally.

The poll released Thursday shows 72 percent of Americans say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the United States legally if they meet certain requirements. These results are similar to polls conducted by the Pew Research Center over the past two years.

Among those who support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, 42 percent say undocumented immigrants should be able to become U.S. citizens and 26 percent say they should only be able to become permanent residents.

The poll also found that most Americans reject the idea that providing a path to legal status for people who are in the country illegally is a reward for “doing something wrong.” Hispanics, younger Americans and Democrats are among those most supportive of both allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally and to be able to become U.S. citizens.

Among Republicans, a majority of them—56 percent—say they support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. At the same time, 63 percent of Republicans believe immigrants are a burden on the country and only 27 percent say they strengthen the country.

In addition, just 34 percent of Republicans say the GOP is doing a good job of representing their views on illegal immigration. Democrats give their party a more positive evaluation, with 51 percent of them saying the party is doing a good job representing their views on the issue.

The poll comes at a time when presidential candidates are staking out their positions on immigration. It also comes several months after President Barack Obama took executive action to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The poll found just 37 percent approve of Obama’s handling of immigration, which according to the Pew Hispanic Research Center is among the lowest approval ratings the president has gotten on the issue.

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