Immigration

Majority Supports "Path to Citizenship"

More than 60 percent favor a way for illegal immigrants to remain

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This week's debate following media reports claiming that Senator Rand Paul had endorsed a "path to citizenship" as a part of immigration reform made clear that the Republican party is still not unified on a new immigration platform. But a new survey on immigration reform out today indicates that the American public, at least, has a clear majority opinion: More than 60 percent of Americans support an earned "path to citizenship" for immigrants currently living illegally in in United States. That includes majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, and majorities in every major religious group.

The survey, from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, offered three reform options to respondents: "earned" citizenship, meaning that immigrants residing illegally in the United States would have the opportunity to earn American citizenship under certain conditions; an immigration system that offers a permanent legal resident option, but not a path to citizenship; and identification and deportation. 63 percent of Americans favored the citizenship option, 14 percent preferred the permanent legal resident option, and 21 percent would rather identify and deport. The number of Americans supporting a path to citizenship increased to 68 percent when asked to choose between securing our borders while offering earned citizenship, and securing our borders while identifying and deporting. Twenty-nine percent of Americans supported the latter.