Pew Poll: Americans Favor Legalizing People Unlawfully in US

4 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Broad Public Support for Legal Status for Undocumented Immigrants.

With presidential contenders on all sides struggling to refine their positions on the prickly issue of immigration, nearly three-quarters of Americans say they support a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, according to a poll published Thursday by the Pew Research Center.As immigration emerges as a major issue ahead of the 2016 presidential race, a new poll found broad public support for legalizing people who are in the U.S. unlawfully. In the survey, 72 percent of Americans said immigrants here illegally should be allowed to stay if they meet some requirements, results that have varied little over the last two years. Republicans are generally critical of their party’s performance on illegal immigration, with 59 percent saying the party is not doing a good job representing their views on how to deal with illegal immigration.

Support for legalization had dipped slightly last year, to 68%, as thousands of children illegally crossed the southwest border into the U.S., many of them fleeing gang violence in Central America. About half (51%) say immigrants today strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents, while 41% say immigrants are a burden because they take jobs, housing and health care. In Congress and among the large field of presidential contenders, many Republicans have moved right on the issue, rejecting legalization and calling for tougher enforcement and border security. Respondents with only some college education or with a high school education or less were significantly more likely to regard immigrants as being a burden than college graduates. Slightly more say legal immigration into the United States should be decreased (31%) than increased (24%), while a 39% plurality says legal immigration should be kept at its present level.

There also are socioeconomic differences in attitudes toward legal immigration: 35% of those who have not completed college favor cutting levels of legal immigration, compared with 25% of college graduates and 18% of those with post-graduate degrees. Roughly four-in-ten (43%) adults 50 and older think allowing undocumented immigrants to gain legal status is a reward for wrongdoing, compared with 27% of those under 30. Among older adults, views are more negative: On balance, somewhat more of those 50-64 (54% to 39%) and those 65 and older (50% to 39%) say they view immigrants as a burden rather than a strength.

The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted May 12-18, 2015 among a national sample of 2,002 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (700 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,302 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 750 who had no landline telephone). For detailed information about our survey methodology, see http://www.pewresearch.org/methodology/u-s-survey-research/ The combined landline and cell phone sample are weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race, Hispanic origin and nativity and region to parameters from the 2013 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and population density to parameters from the Decennial Census. The margins of error reported and statistical tests of significance are adjusted to account for the survey’s design effect, a measure of how much efficiency is lost from the weighting procedures. The following table shows the unweighted sample sizes and the error attributable to sampling that would be expected at the 95% level of confidence for different groups in the survey: In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

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