As the debate surrounding U.S. immigration policy continues, a growing number of Americans believe the issue should be an immediate priority for President Barack Obama and Congress. A majority of U.S. residents — 53% — have this view while 34% say immigration policy should be addressed over the next couple of years. 13% of residents don’t think immigration reform should be an issue at all.
POLL MUST BE SOURCED: McClatchy-Marist Poll
“Americans are eager to see action on immigration reform,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “But, they are also divided over what the new policy should emphasize.”
The proportion of Americans who want immigration policy to take center stage in the national discourse has increased. When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in March, 37% of adults nationally thought immigration reform should be an immediate priority. 46% said it should be addressed over the next couple of years, and 17% reported immigration policy should not be a priority at all.
What should be the focus of immigration reform? Nearly half of U.S. adults — 48% — think protecting our borders should be the central theme. 44% report legislation should be about finding a path to citizenship for those already here. Eight percent are unsure. Similar proportions of registered voters share these views.
Slightly fewer Americans believe the crux of U.S. immigration policy should be border protection. In March, a majority of residents — 55% — thought border security should be at the heart of the changes to immigration policy. 41% reported finding a pathway to citizenship should be the focus. Four percent, then, were unsure.
Partisan differences exist on this question. About seven in ten Republicans — 69% — and a majority of independents — 54% — favor border protection. This compares with more than six in ten Democrats — 61% — who want the focus to be on a pathway to citizenship.
Race matters. A majority of white Americans — 53% — want the focus of immigration policy to be on border protection. In contrast, a majority of African Americans — 51% — and nearly two-thirds of Latinos — 64% — want an emphasis on finding a pathway to citizenship for immigrants already in the United States.