Immigration: Major Change In Last Three Years

June 05, 2013, 2:00 PM UTC

(Week of 6/1/2013)  Americans have become increasingly open to working out a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants now in the United States, at least as long as the pathway includes background checks, fines, and jobs. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, 53% would support a way for those in the country to gain citizenship under those requirements – up from just 44% in 2010.

The change has been particularly striking among Republicans. Three years ago, Democrats favored this pathway by well over two to one. And they still do. 65% of Democrats now would favor this pathway, not much different from the 63% of Democrats who would have two and a half years ago. But in 2010, Republicans overwhelmingly opposed opening up a pathway to citizenship; now, perhaps worried about their party’s weakness with Hispanic voters in recent elections, they divide evenly. Those in the West are among the most likely to say that immigration is a serious problem in their community (and 27% admit they know someone in this country illegally); they support this kind of path to citizenship 53% to 32%.

But while a pathway to citizenship – after meeting strict requirements – now gets public support, that doesn’t mean that most Americans like immigration. A third says it is a serious problem in their communities. And the public supports two very different solutions from the pathway to citizenship: by more than two to one, they favor building more border fences.

And by nearly the same percentages, they would permit a guest worker program, bringing people from other countries into the United States to work for a period of time, but then requiring them to return to their home countries.

Just under half of Republicans favor a guest worker program, but more than three-quarters of Republicans want more border fences built.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association