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Voters Say Obama Shouldn’t Act on Immigration Without Congress

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Most voters oppose President Obama taking solo action on immigration issues without Congress, perhaps in part because many don’t believe he is as interested as they are in stopping illegal immigration. 

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the federal government should only do what the president and Congress agree on when it comes to immigration. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 33% believe the president should take action alone if Congress does not approve the initiatives he has proposed. Ten percent (10%) are undecided. (To see question wording, click here.)

This is consistent with surveying earlier this year in which 55% said the government should only do what the president and Congress agree on when it comes to issues in general that Obama considers important to the nation. Thirty-five percent (35%) felt the president should take action alone if Congress does not approve the initiatives he has proposed.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of Democrats feel the president should go it alone on immigration policy if he feels it’s necessary. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans and 58% of voters not affiliated with either major political party think the government should only do what Congress and the president agree on. 

But then while most voters have said for years that stopping illegal immigration is more important than putting those already here illegally on the path to citizenship, they believe Obama has the opposite agenda. Just 15% think the president puts preventing future illegal immigration ahead of making it easier for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. A plurality (47%) feels that making these illegal immigrants citizens is more important to the president. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say he considers the two of equal importance.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters want Congress to find a way to stop the president’s plan to protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation. Forty-three percent (43%) believe Congress should allow this action to stand.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on December 5-6, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Opponents of the president's action say he does not have the constitutional authority to order that a law passed by Congress does not have to be obeyed. Most voters agree with Republicans in Congress that the president does not have the right to change laws without Congress’ approval.

Forty-four percent (44%) think the president has been less faithful to the U.S. Constitution than most other presidents.  Twenty-two percent (22%) feel Obama has been more faithful to the Constitution than most of his predecessors, while 30% say he has followed the Constitution about the same as other presidents have.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Republicans and a plurality (45%) of unaffiliateds believe the president is more interested in making it easier for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Just 32% of Democrats agree. Still, only 22% of voters in his own party think Obama is more interested in preventing future illegal immigration. 

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of conservative voters and 53% of moderates feel the government should only do what the president and Congress agree on when it comes to immigration. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of liberals believe the president should take action alone if Congress does not approve the initiatives he has proposed.

Conservatives favor interpreting the U.S. Constitution exactly as it was written. Liberals are more likely to see it as “a living document,” subject to change with the times. Fifty-one percent (51%) of all voters now believe the Constitution is “a living document.” Forty-one percent (41%) believe in strict interpretation of the Constitution. 

However, the majority of voters across most demographic categories think the government should only do what Congress and the president agree on when it comes to immigration.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of those who think Obama is more interested in making illegal immigrants citizens believe the government should only do what Congress and the president agree on. Just over half of voters who believe the president is more interested in stopping illegal immigration or who think he considers the two of equal importance feel he should take action alone. 

Seventeen states are now suing the Obama administration over the president’s new immigration policy. Forty-five percent (45%) of voters favor their state suing the administration over this policy, while 42% are opposed. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters who favor their state suing the administration believe Obama is more interested in making it easier for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Just 34% of those who oppose their state suing agree.

Most voters continue to feel the government has not been aggressive enough in deporting those who are here illegally. and to believe the federal government encourages illegal immigration instead

Over the summer during the latest immigration crisis when young illegal immigrants were flooding over the border, most voters felt the president wanted to let most of them stay despite majority support for their quick deportation.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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