The debate over the future of the nation’s estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants continues to be a hot topic and political front burner. President Barack Obama has taken actions to prevent the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants. The topic of illegal immigration has stormed the Republican Party as well; Donald Trump calls for deporting all undocumented immigrants in the United States, and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Others consider changing the amendment that guarantees birthright citizenship.
Republicans and Democrats have long been conflicted over U.S. immigration policy. Consistent majorities of Republicans favor providing a path to legal status for illegal immigrants residing the states; yet most Republicans also fear that granting legal status would represent reward for illegal actions. Past numbers show nearly half of Republicans supporting change to ban birthright citizenship, and a majority supporting a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico.
Pew Research Center breaks down public opinion on some key immigration issues:
Stay or Deport?
Conducted in May 2015, 72% of Americans-including 80% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans, say undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay legally if they meet certain requirements. Just 17% of the public overall favored a “national law enforcement effort to deport” all illegal immigrants, including 27% Republicans. In 2013, 76% of Republicans said this was unrealistic. A 2014 survey found the public divided on feelings about the record number of deportations of unauthorized immigrants during the Obama administration. Overall, 45% of Americans say this is a good thing, and 45% say bad. A high of 55% Republicans rate this record deportation as good, as opposed to 37% of Americans. Republicans who agree with the Tea Party, 65%, were more likely to favor deportations. Regarding Hispanics, 60% saw the deportations as a bad thing, with 46% worrying about a family member or close friend being deported. To 56%, it is important for undocumented immigrants to be able to work and live in the U.S. without the threat of deportation that to obtain legal citizenship.
The current debate battles over whether to change the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, stating “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the U.S. and the State wherein they reside.” The majority of Americans, 57%, said that the Constitution should stay the same, with 39% favoring change to ban birthright citizenship; 87% of Americans were are of this birthright. The idea of ending birthright citizenship drew opposition among Hispanics (73%), young people (73% of people under 30), and Democrats (66%). Republicans remained split; 49% wanted to leave it as is, and 47% favored change to ban birthright citizenship.
At least 4.5 million U.S. born children lived with at least one unauthorized parent in a 2012 analysis.
Building a Wall
In October 2011, 46% favored building a wall along the entire border of Mexico, while 47% were opposed. Republicans (62%) were more likely than independents (44%) or Democrats (39%) to support building this barrier.
View of Immigrants
Are immigrants generally a problem, taking jobs and services, or do they strengthen the country through hard work and talents? In a May 2015 survey, 51% of Americans view immigrants as a burden; Republicans (63%) are more likely than Democrats (32%) to share this viewpoint. The share of Republicans that view immigrants as a burden jumped 15%; in May 2014 it was 48%.
As growth of this power has stalled, there has been a sharp rise in the time that illegal immigrants have lived in the U.S. In 2013, the average time illegal immigrants had been in the U.S. 13 years, compared to only 8 years in 2003.
Immigration has not ranked high in the annual poll on the issues Americans see as a top priority for the president and Congress. Even Hispanics view other issues as more important; education (92%), jobs and economy (91%), health care(86%), immigration (73%).
Sources and Information provided by: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/08/24/what-americans-want-to-do-about-illegal-immigration/