Majority of Americans Support Pathway to Citizenship and Residency for Immigrants

A national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted March 13-17, 2013, found that seven in 10 Americans say there should be a way for people in the United States illegally to remain in the country if they meet certain requirements. Only 27% disagree with this sentiment, claiming illegal residents should not be allowed to stay legally.

The survey found that the majority of individuals across all demographic and political groups believed there should be a way for illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements to stay in the US legally. 43% claimed the immigrants should be eligible for citizenship, while 24% opted for eligibility for permanent residency.

In 2011, there were approximately 40 million immigrants in the United States. Of that total, 11.1 million, or 28%, were in this country illegally.

When asked about immigrants in general, 49% of Americans reported that they strengthen the country because of hard work and talent. A similar survey in 2010 reported that 39% of the American public saw immigrants as producing a positive impact on the US.

Moreso, even more (about 52%) Americans think that the growing number of newcomers in the United States strengthens society.

Broken down by ethnicity, a wide range of Americans believe in creating a path for citizenship, or at least legal residency. Eight in 10 non-Hispanic blacks (82%) and Hispanics (80%) say those in the US illegally should be allowed to stay, given certain requirements. 52% of blacks and 49% of Hispanics say illegal immigrants should be able to become citizens. Two thirds of non-Hispanic whites (67%) say illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the country legally, while 31% disagree. Four in ten whites say illegal residents should have the chance to apply for citizenship if they meet certain requirements.

Politically speaking, 76% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 64% of Republicans say illegal immigrants should be allowed to obtain legal residency, provided they meet certain requirements.

The survey was conducted through a series of telephone interviews that took place between March 13-17, 2013. The survey included a national sample of 1,501 adults over the age of 18, living in all US states, including Washington DC.