Eight-in-ten Americans support pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants

National Park Service



A full 80 percent of Americans favor providing a way for undocumented immigrants to gain legal U.S. citizenship if they meet certain criteria, according to a recent McClatchy-Marist poll of 1,073 adults nationwide.

The poll was conducted between February 15 and February 19. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

And, there is bipartisan support for such action ā€” 87 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of independents overwhelmingly support a pathway to citizenship, and even 69 percent of Republicans favor such a move if undocumented immigrants learn English, pay fines, and find a job that pay taxes. Also of note, 72 percent of those who supported President Donald Trump in the election support a pathway to legal citizenship.

However, less consensus exists on the question of sanctuary cities. Exactly half of Americans ā€” 50 percent ā€” think sanctuary cities are needed to provide services to undocumented immigrants while 41 percent say undocumented immigrants should be deported, and therefore, there is no need for sanctuary cities. Ten percent of Americans are unsure.

On the question of cutting federal funds to cities that provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, 53 percent of U.S. residents oppose such a measure; 42 percent support eliminating federal monies; and 5 percent are unsure.

Here, party affiliation came into play. More than seven in ten Democrats and a majority of independents support the existence of sanctuary cities and oppose cutting funds to cities who act as such sanctuaries. However, about three in four Republicans do not see a need for sanctuary cities and support cutting federal funds to cities who provide sanctuary. Americans who supported Donald Trump in the election, conservatives, and Tea Party supporters are also among those who are most opposed to sanctuary cities and providing federal funds to cities who act as sanctuaries.

Racial differences also exist. Latinos are among those most likely (68 percent) to favor sanctuary cities, and nearly six in ten African Americans (59 percent) share this view. Whites are divided with 45 percent saying sanctuary cities should exist and 44 percent saying they do not see a need for sanctuary cities and undocumented immigrants should be deported. However, more than half of whites (51 percent) oppose cutting federal funds to these cities, a position held by 70 percent of African Americans and 59 percent of Latinos.

For this poll, adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Of the larger sample of 1,073 Americans polled, 865 identified themselves as registered voters.

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