The course of action for realistically and ethically managing illegal immigration in the U.S. has been hotly debated in congress, a new national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that amongst U.S. citizens, there is strong support for the idea of creating a pathway for undocumented aliens to obtain legal status.

Results of the Survey

The results of the survey/poll which were released on on Thursday, June 4, 2015 show that over 70% of the American public believe that undocumented aliens who have entered the U.S. illegally or currently have no legal status should be allowed to remain in the U.S. legally, if they satisfy certain requirements. The issue of how to fairly manage the population of undocumented aliens residing in the U.S. has become one of national attention (and rightfully so, as this population is in the millions) While national opinion of this issue has swayed over the past two years, this recent survey provides a clear indication of the general public’s opinion currently. Approximately 42% of American citizens support a pathway to U.S. citizenship, while 26% favor only a pathway to permanent resident (green card) status.

General Support From the U.S.Public

The survey highlights the general view of both Republicans and Democrats, which are known to be at odds on many contemporary issues affecting the U.S. However, the general public’s opinion on this issue is far less divided than those of their Congressional counterparts.  A majority (56%) of Republicans who participated in the survey voiced support for creating a pathway to legal status for undocumented aliens. Although many Republicans currently holding office in Congress have rejected the idea of legalization and favored tougher enforcement of current federal policies, close to 60% of the Republican participants also voiced negative criticism regarding their party’s management of this issue. Democratic support for this idea is far greater as approximately 80% of Democratic participant polled said “yes” to the idea of providing a pathway to legal status, provided that the potential applicant meet specific criteria.

Opinions on “Legal Immigration” Remain Divided

Despite overall public support for the idea of a pathway to legal status, many other findings in this research illustrate that the nation is still divided on other related immigration issues. When the same individuals were asked how to manage legal immigration in the future, a strong divide in public opinion became evident. A large portion (42%) of the Republican participants believe that legal immigration should be decreased, while only 27% of Democrat participants and 28% of independent support this idea.

Rejecting the Stigma Surrounding Undocumented Aliens

A very public argument made by some  is the idea that a pathway for legal status is a reward for illegal activity. This study shows that In general, U.S. citizens do not believe that providing a pathway to lawful legal status option is incentivizing illegal immigration. However, the opposing opinion (that this possible course of action is actually “rewarding” individuals for not following federal policy) is supported much more by Republicans than Democrats.

The Broader Message

Studies like these are so vital because the findings can help de-stigmatize undocumented aliens residing in the U.S. to a certain degree. While there are some stark differences between Republicans and Democrats in regards to certain aspects of national immigration policy, it is important to know that on some issues, such as supporting a pathway to legal status, there is a common ground.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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