Americans overwhelmingly support the creation of a program that would provide illegal immigrants currently in the United States with an eventual path to citizenship, a new immigration poll from CNN finds.
According to the poll (full results PDF link), 81 percent of those surveyed are in favor of "Creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the United States for a number of years to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country permanently if they had a job and paid back taxes." Nineteen percent were opposed.
Despite the high percentage of people who appear to be in support of the plan, which, as phrased, is a lot like the common definition of offering amnesty to illegal immigrants, 81 percent of respondents also said that they'd favor securing the southern border with Mexico by increasing the presence of U.S. Border Patrol and law enforcement officials.
Also, according to CNN's analysis of the data:
57 percent of Americans say the main focus of the federal government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration should be developing a plan that would stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country and deporting those already in the U.S. That's 15 points higher than the 42 percent who say developing a plan that would allow illegal immigrants who have jobs to become U.S. residents should be Washington's top priority.
The poll also comes in anticipation of the enforcement of Arizona's controversial new immigration law, SB 1070, which is set to go into effect on Thursday. According to the survey, 55 percent support the state's anti-illegal immigration law, with 40 percent opposing and 5 percent having no opinion. Despite a majority of support for the legislation, 50 percent of those surveyed say they believe that the law will not reduce illegal immigration and 54 percent say they think the law will lead to discrimination against Hispanics.
The poll surveyed 1,018 Americans by telephone between July 16 and 21. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 points.