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As president makes another push for immigration reform, poll finds majority support path to citizenship

At a time when the prospects of the House taking up immigration reform legislation any time soon do not look too promising, a new poll finds a solid majority of Americans favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“Today, 63% of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 14% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens,” states a new report from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).  In fact, the report found the number of Americans supporting a pathway to citizenship is even higher – to about 7 in 10 – when the question mentions certain requirements immigrants must meet in order to qualify.

The results show Americans have remained consistent on the issue for the past year; the institute found the same number (63 percent) in March and August.

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There is consistent support across regions of the country as well as political parties and religions.  This includes 73 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Independents. Roughly six-in-10 residents of Arizona, Ohoians and Floridians also agree, as well as white evangelicals (55 percent), minority Protestants (69 percent) white, mainline Protestants (60 percent), Catholics (62 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (64 percent).

Fifty-five percent of Hispanics thought immigration should be a priority for the President and Congress, a significantly higher number than non-Latino whites (38 percent) and non-Latino blacks (39 percent). In total, about 4 in 10 say this should be a priority.

On border security, while a solid majority of primarily Republican legislators put a strong emphasis on the issue as a prerequisite for immigration legislation, the public is divided. Forty-nine percent  agree on a border security proposal which would include adding 20,000 new border control agents and 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, at an estimated cost of $46 billion. But an almost equal number – 45 percent – do not agree on this.

The report released Monday comes as President Barack Obama touts the importance of immigration reform in a speech in California.  Aboard Air Force One, presidential spokesperson Josh Earnest said the President will stress how immigration reform legislation is expected to generate $1.5 trillion in economic growth.

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