Majority favors a pathway to citizenship, report finds

A majority of people in the United States said they support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

Sixty-three percent said they favor any legislation that would provide a pathway to those living in the country illegally, according to a report released Monday by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute.

That group crosses religious and political lines. Sixty percent of Republicans, 73 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents hold that view. More than half of Catholics, Protestants and people with no religious affiliation do, too. 

Only 14 percent support legal residency, but reject the option for obtaining citizenship, the report said.

The institute studied the public’s view of immigration issues in March, and has since found it hasn’t changed much. 

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At that time, 59 percent said they favored a pathway to citizenship with no requirements included. If those seeking citizenship were mandated to learn English, pass background checks and pay back taxes, 71 percent said they would support it.

The new report comes as President Obama prepares for a speech Monday focused on immigration reform during his fundraising trip on the West Coast. He is expected to urge House Republicans to tackle the issue immediately during remarks at an event in San Francisco.

Despite White House pressure, GOP leadership has repeatedly said it would not take it up this year, especially because there are few legislative days remaining in this session.

Less than half of the public, 41 percent, said the issue should be an immediate priority for Obama and Congress, the institute’s report said. Fifty-five percent of Hispanics, however, said it’s a top priority, compared with 38 percent of white people.

Last week, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said immigration reform is “absolutely not” dead. He has suggested his caucus will address immigration issues individually through piece-meal legislation.

Obama said in October he’s open to any legislation as long as it provides a pathway to citizenship.