POLITICS
11/25/2014 12:30 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Americans Split On Obama's Latest Immigration Move

WASHINGTON -- Americans are not crazy about the idea of undocumented immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens being allowed to stay in the country without being able to work. At the same time, Americans are split on whether those immigrants should be deported or allowed to remain in the U.S. with work authorization, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll released on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama announced plans last week to allow what could be millions of people with long-standing ties to the U.S. to apply to stay and work legally. The largest component of Obama's plan will be a new program that allows the parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to apply for three years of deportation reprieve. Experts estimate that more than 4 million people could benefit from that plan.

In general, a larger share of Americans polled by HuffPost/YouGov disapproved of Obama's announcement that he will halt deportations for as many as 5 million people. Forty-one percent said they approved of Obama's plan, while 47 percent disapproved.

Under the current system, undocumented immigrants often stay in the U.S. and are unable to work legally, meaning they have to work either under the table or not at all. The HuffPost/YouGov poll asked specifically about undocumented parents of U.S. citizens, who under the current system are not allowed to stay or work, but who nevertheless often remain in the country.

A plurality of people -- 44 percent -- said that undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens should be allowed to apply to stay and work legally, while another 31 percent said that the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens should be deported. Only 8 percent said those parents should be allowed to stay but not work. Sixteen percent said they were not sure.

Democrats were more likely to say the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens should be allowed to stay. Sixty-four percent of Democrats said they should be allowed to both stay and work legally, and another 9 percent said they should be allowed to stay but not work. Among Republicans, 52 percent said the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens should be deported, but 31 percent said they should be able to stay and work legally. Only 5 percent of Republicans said parents of U.S. citizens should not be deported, but should not be allowed to work, either.

Under Obama's new plans, the government will also expand eligibility for the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants deportation relief and work authorization to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, a group often called Dreamers. Right now, the program only applies to those who entered the U.S. before they were 16, and who were under 31 as of the date the program was announced. The age cap for eligibility will now be removed, although the program will still only be open to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were under 16.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll found that people are split on the issue of relief for Dreamers, with a slightly larger proportion saying they oppose allowing Dreamers to stay. Forty-seven percent said they oppose letting Dreamers stay -- with 30 percent saying they oppose it strongly -- while another 44 percent said they support the policy.

Most Americans in the poll wanted to see politicians on both sides of the aisle make an effort to work together. A majority said that Republicans, despite their midterm victory, should work with Democrats to find a compromise on immigration. Most also thought that Obama should have tried harder to work with Congress before taking action himself.

Other polling since Obama's announcement has found major divides in public opinion. A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found that 45 percent of respondents supported the idea of Obama acting on his own on immigration if Congress failed to act, while another 48 percent disapproved.

A Hart Executive Research Associates poll conducted for the pro-Democratic group Americans United for Change found majority support for Obama's actions. Two-thirds of likely 2016 voters said they viewed the plan favorably, while 28 percent opposed it.

Latinos are particularly supportive of the new policies. A Latino Decisions poll released Monday found that 89 percent of Latino registered voters support the measures. Even among Latino registered voters who are Republicans, 76 percent approved of Obama's announcement.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Nov. 20-23 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.

Ariel Edwards-Levy contributed reporting.

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