Poll finds strong public support for immigration

A Gallup poll released Thursday shows that 40 percent of Americans support current immigration levels, with 35 percent saying the flow should decrease and 23 percent calling for higher levels.

The 23 percent figure calling for more immigration is the highest figure recorded in the Gallup poll since 1999.

Republicans, however, are more supportive of decreasing immigration than Democrats and independents. Forty-six percent of Republicans want immigration curtailed, with 36 percent supporting current levels and 16 percent wanting more immigration. Among Democrats, a plurality support current levels, at 42 percent, with 29 percent wanting more immigration and 27 percent calling for a decrease. 

Overall, 72 percent said immigration was a “good thing” for the country, to 25 percent who said it was bad. Nonwhites are more likely to back more immigration, with 25 percent saying it should be increased to 22 percent of white American who agree.

The poll comes as the House GOP considers its response to a comprehensive immigration reform proposal passed in the Senate last month.

House Republicans met Wednesday behind closed doors, as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) urged his conference to pass immigration reform, arguing that they would be in a “weaker position” if they did not act.

The Senate bill includes a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country and increased border enforcement measures. But immigration reform faces a tough road in the House, where GOP lawmakers are opposed to the citizenship provisions and want more focus on border security.

Boehner has also vowed not to push any bill that lacks the support of a majority of the GOP conference. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has said he will not move a single bill, but rather approve legislation by a piecemeal approach.

A bipartisan House group is expected to present its own proposal. 

Immigration reform proponents expressed concerns that momentum to pass a bill could stall in the House. 

President Obama has said immigration is one of his key second-term priorities. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration knew it would be a challenge.

“It’s always been an uphill battle,” Carney said about passing immigration reform in the House. “Hard things are hard.”

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