Poll: Americans split on tying pathway to citizenship to border security

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But as Congress grapples with how to best implement the program, the public remains split on whether to include a hard trigger that ties a pathway to citizenship to border security.

Of those surveyed, 49 percent said illegal immigrants should be allowed to apply for legal status while the border improvements were underway, while 43 percent say that the process should begin only after effective border control is established.

Unsurprisingly, a partisan split is driving the difference. While six in 10 Democrats support simultaneous pushes on legalization and security efforts, 56 percent of Republicans say a pathway to citizenship should be dependent on border control.

The survey also showed that more than three-quarters of Americans supported requiring those seeking legal status to show they could speak and understand English, while 56 percent believe they should pay fines and 55 percent say those here illegally should wait at least a decade before being granted citizenship.

Of those surveyed, 77 percent say deporting all the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants would be unrealistic, while three-quarters say offering legal status would be better for the government. That said, 61 percent worry that granting legal status could drain government services, and 51 percent believe giving legal status would take jobs from American citizens.