Poll: Voters Prefer Both Border Security and Path to Citizenship

GOP voters back U.S.-Mexico border wall, most Democrats are opposed

A Pew poll shows Democrats and Republicans aren't far apart on immigration reform if given choices, but differ if they're given only one approach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Supporters of both presidential candidates say border security and a path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants should be given equal priority, a new poll shows.

The Pew Research Center survey shows more Republicans favor securing the borders first and more Democrats prefer a path to citizenship, and a nearly equal percentage — 47 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Republicans — felt both should be done first.

Overall, 29 percent said providing a way for unauthorized immigrants to become citizens should come first and 24 percent favored making border security the first priority. Limited to one choice, though, 69 percent of Republicans or those who lean that way said they favor better border security and stronger law enforcement as a first step, while 79 percent of Democrats said they favor going the citizenship route first.

[Spending Bill Seeks to Force Use of 'Illegal Alien']

Pew's research shows the number of immigrants in the country illegally — approximately 11.3 million — has remained stable since 2009. While Mexican immigrants still make up the largest share of the undocumented population, their numbers have declined since 2007.

Other findings from the poll:

  • About three-quarters of Americans agreed undocumented immigrants were "as honest and hardworking" as U.S. citizens and 67 percent said they were no more likely than citizens to commit a serious offense.
  • Majorities of both Democrats and Republicans agreed that immigrants take jobs citizens don't want.
  • A majority of Americans disapprove of Republican nominee Donald Trump's plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — 61 percent, while 36 percent approve. But the partisan divide is stark: 63 percent of Republicans or those who lean that way support building a wall, while 84 percent of Democrats oppose are opposed.

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