Poll: Majority of Republicans support path to citizenship

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Most moderate and liberal Republicans — and nearly half of the party’s conservative members — support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

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In all, 52 percent of Republicans said they support a path to citizenship, while 30 percent support the identification and deportation of all illegal immigrants.

Democrats overwhelmingly support immigration reform, but the divide between liberals (78 percent in favor) and conservatives (63 percent) covers a much larger spread. Identification and deportation is not a popular position among Democrats — only 11 percent support the idea, including 17 percent of those who identify as conservative Democrats.

The survey measured the attitude of Americans toward immigrants and immigration reform, accounting for age, political tendency, religion, geography and ethnicity.

Americans in general expressed support for immigration reform (62 percent of respondents), with those under 30 (69 percent), African-Americans (69 percent) and Hispanics (67 percent) showing stronger approval for a path to citizenship.

Younger Republicans were also shown to have more liberal views on immigration than their older counterparts: 63 percent of Republicans under 30 support a path to citizenship, compared to only 47 percent over age 65.

PRRI underlined the association between attitudes toward immigrants' roles in American society and support for immigration reform.

Of Americans who believe the influence of immigrants overall is positive, 74 percent support allowing them to become citizens. Only 37 percent of those who believe immigrants threaten American culture support deportation, while 46 percent support a path to citizenship.

Pew Research estimates there were 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the United States as of 2014, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2012.