Poll: Most Americans have positive view of illegal immigrants

A new poll by the Pew Research Center found that most Americans have a positive view of illegal immigrants, data that could cause Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE to revaluate his calls from earlier in the campaign to deport millions of undocumented residents.

Trump has made the criminal dangers posed by illegal immigrants and the pressures they put on the labor market central themes of his campaign. The Republican National Convention in Cleveland earlier this summer featured speeches by parents whose children were killed by illegal immigrants

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The Pew survey found that 76 percent of Americans nationwide say undocumented immigrants are “as honest and hard-working” as U.S. citizens and 67 percent said they are no more likely to commit serious crimes.

Furthermore, only 24 percent said illegal immigrants take jobs that Americans want, while 71 percent said they are more likely to fill jobs that citizens don’t want.

Sixty-one percent oppose building a wall along the U.S-Mexico border, which Trump has endorsed throughout his presidential campaign.

A plurality, 45 percent, believe that creating a path for illegal immigrants to become citizens and strengthening border security, along with the enforcement of immigration laws, should be given equal priority.

Those were the pillars of the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013 that stalled in the GOP-controlled House.

Trump has indicated he may moderate his position on illegal immigrants as the fall election heats up. He is scheduled to give a speech Wednesday on the issue.

His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said immigrants who entered the country illegally would likely first have to return home before applying through legal channels. A so-called touchback provision was floated during the 2007 Senate immigration reform debate.

“We need to have a fair and humane way of addressing the fact that 11 million — or we don’t even know the number — 11 million, or so it’s estimated, illegal immigrants live among us,” Conway told Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday.”

“What he has said is no legalization and no amnesty,” she said of Trump’s immigration stance. “He also said this week, Chris, if you go back to your home country, and if you’d like to come back to the United States as an immigrant, you need to apply through the many different channels that allow people to apply for citizenship or entry into the United States legally.”

Twenty-nine percent of people in the Pew poll said the emphasis should be placed on creating ways for illegal immigrants to become citizens, while 24 percent said the priority should be on stronger border security and enforcement, Pew reported. 

The survey of 2,010 adults was conducted Aug. 9–16.

Forty-one percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said better border security and stronger law enforcement were more important, but 45 percent said the issue should be considered equally with finding a way to let an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants stay in the country, provided they meet certain requirements.

Forty-three percent of Democrats said creating a path to citizenship for immigrants should be a top priority, although 47 percent said improving border security and enforcement should be viewed as just as important.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated how many Americans think illegal immigrants are more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes. The Hill regrets the error.