Tuesday, June 10, 2014
In early 2013, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Brookings released the results of the largest survey ever conducted on religion, values, and immigration reform. This landmark survey showed solid support across religious and party lines for immigration reform that included a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally, even as many Americans held reservations about the economic and cultural impact of immigrants. Religion, race, political affiliation and media source are all indicators of the immigration policy that one chooses to support, this survey concludes. The survey finds that the issue of immigration reform has support across party lines, although there are notable differences in the intensity of support.
PRRI and Brookings also find that opposition to immigration reform in 2014 may become a bigger liability for candidates. Now more than a year later, PRRI and Brookings are sharing further data about how Americans view immigration reforms with results from a panel call back the organizations conducted more recently.
Key findings from this more recent survey include:
Current support for a path to citizenship is nearly identical to support levels one year ago (March 2013) when 63% of Americans supported a path to citizenship for immigrants who are living in the United States illegally.
Attitudes about the cultural and economic impact of immigrants have become more positive. At present, 62% of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 17% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, and roughly 1-in-5 (19%) favor a policy that would identify and deport all immigrants living in the United States illegally.
Consistent with findings from March 2013, majorities of self-identified Democrats (70%), independents (61%), and Republicans (51%) continue to favor a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. Notably, Republicans are roughly three-times more likely than Democrats to favor identifying and deporting all immigrants living in the U.S. illegally (30% vs. 11%).
Less than 4-in-10 (37%) Americans who are part of the Tea Party movement favor allowing immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to become U.S. citizens, while 23% favor allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens; notably, 37% favor a policy that would identify and deport all immigrants in the U.S. illegally, the highest among all partisan groups.
Majorities of all religious groups, with the exception of white evangelical Protestants, support a path to citizenship, including roughly 6-in-10 white mainline Protestants (58%), minority Protestants (62%) and Catholics (63%), and more than two-thirds (68%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans.
Americans continue to favor allowing immigrants living in the country illegally who were brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college, a policy which comprises the basic elements of the DREAM Act.
Only 42% of Republicans who most trust Fox News to provide accurate information about politics and current events support a path to citizenship, compared to 60% of Republicans who most trust other news sources. In fact, trust in Fox News as an accurate news source is the most powerful independent predictor of opposition to a path to citizenship.
The two most powerful independent predictors of support for a path to citizenship are being young (under 30) and identifying as Hispanic. Holding a four-year college degree, being female, identifying with the Democratic Party, and most trusting MSNBC as an accurate news source are also significant predictors of support for immigration reform. Most Americans believe the immigration system in the United States is broken. Less than 1-in-10 (6%) Americans believe that the immigration system is generally working, 31% say it is working but with some major problems, 38% say it is broken but working in some areas, and 23% say it is completely broken.
Fifty-three percent of voters say they would be less willing to vote for a candidate who opposes immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally. Only 16 percent say they would be more likely to support a candidate who opposes immigration reform, while 30 percent say that a candidate’s position on this issue would make no difference to their vote.
Even among Republican voters, opposing immigration reform carries more political risk than benefit. Among religious voters, opposing immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship is also more of a liability than an asset.
Download the full report to learn more about how Americans view certain elements of immigration reform, how news sources impact public opinion, and how American demographics contribute to political sentiment.