While Republicans continue to take a hard line on immigration, a large majority of Americans say that immigrants already in the United States illegally should be allowed to stay, according to a Pew survey released Thursday. Seventy-two percent of Americans believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed to either apply for citizenship or permanent residency, while only 27 percent would like to see those immigrants deported.
While it’s not surprising that 80 percent of Democrats support a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, they are joined by 76 percent of Independents and 56 percent of Republicans, according to the Pew survey. Pew polled 2,002 adults between May 12-18. The poll has a margin of error of 2.5 percent.
A bipartisan deal on addressing the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants passed the Senate in 2013 before falling apart in the House due to opposition from GOP hardliners. Republican lawmakers were further incensed by executive actions taken by President Obama to grant temporary protections from deportation to certain undocumented immigrants. Many of the Republican contenders for the White House have decried so-called “amnesty” being granted to undocumented immigrants, though some, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have suggested they would support some sort of legal status.