As Congress tries to reach consensus on how to deal with border security and immigration reform, a new national poll indicates that more than eight in ten Americans support an eventual pathway to citizenship for some undocumented workers.
According to a CNN/ORC International survey, 84% of the public backs a program that would allow undocumented workers to stay in the U.S. and apply for citizenship if they have been in the country for several years, have a job, and pay back taxes.
The poll's Tuesday release comes on the same day that comprehensive immigration reform legislation put together by a bipartisan group of eight senators known as the "Gang of Eight" is technically rolled out. Their bill calls for a 13-year path to citizenship for those who entered the U.S. prior to 2012. It would take 10 years for such undocumented workers to get a green card, and then another three years to gain citizenship. Along the way, undocumented workers would have to pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check. The legislation also mandates that there be no path to legality until it is determined that the U.S. border with Mexico is secure.
"Politically speaking, Democrats are more likely to support the proposal than Republicans, but even among GOPers, support is at 78%," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Demographically, the biggest difference is a gender gap, with support among men nine points lower than among women. Nonetheless, support among men is a robust 79%."
The overall high level of support is not new -- in a 2007 CNN survey, 80% felt that same way.
But the 84% figure is higher than two other national polls released in recent weeks. Nearly six in ten Americans in surveys from Quinnipiac University and ABC News/Washington Post said they supported an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.
The other recent polls did not describe the circumstances under which immigrants would be allowed to stay -- such as having a job and paying back taxes -- which would likely dilute support for the proposals that are most likely to come before Congress.
The "Gang of Eight" had planned to unveil their bill at a high profile news conference on Tuesday, but the event was scrubbed in light of Monday's deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.
The Senate Judiciary Committee could take up the proposal as early as the end of this week. The president is encouraging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. Some conservatives oppose eventually allowing undocumented workers to achieve citizenship, considering the move amnesty.
The group had planned to unveil its proposal at a high-profile Tuesday news conference, but that event was canceled in light of the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon, legislative aides said late Monday.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.