Around 62% of Americans favor a legal pathway to citizenship for immigrants currently living illegally in the U.S., according to a poll released Tuesday. The Public Religion Research Institute poll, conducted in conjunction with the Brookings Institute, found American sentiment toward immigration reform hasn’t changed much since 2013.
With the 2014 midterm elections fast approaching, candidates should be wary of another key finding from the poll: Americans say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate that opposes reform. According to the poll, around 53% of voters say they likely would not vote for a candidate if he or she opposed a pathway to citizenship. About 16% say they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, while 30% say it would have no impact.
Opposition to reform has an adverse impact even among Republican voters, whose party's House leadership has not taken up an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year. About 46% of self-identified Republicans say opposition to reform would hurt a candidate’s chances of gaining their vote. About 21% of Republicans surveyed say they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate.
The expansive survey also showed that most Americans support legislation that provides resident status for the children of illegal immigrants after those children either join the military or go to college—something the DREAM Act does not do. (The DREAM Act allows young undocumented immigrants to pursue an education and career, but it does not provide a pathway to citizenship.) About 68% of those surveyed say they favor such a policy, while about 30% do not.
The survey of about 601 Americans was conducted via telephone in April; the margin of error is 3.3 percentage points.