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Voters Still Cool to Obama’s Immigration Plan

Monday, February 09, 2015

Voters remain opposed to President Obama’s decision to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants but have a slightly more favorable opinion of those who are coming to this country.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 37% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of the president’s new plan that will allow nearly five million illegal immigrants to remain in this country legally and apply for jobs. Fifty-one percent (51%) oppose the plan. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Soon after the plan was announced last November, 40% were in favor, while 50% opposed.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters think Congress should try to find ways to stop the president’s plan, while 43% believe Congress should allow this decision to stand. Most voters continue to believe that securing the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already here and think plans to offer legal status to such individuals will just encourage more illegal immigration.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) have a favorable opinion of immigrants who work hard, support their family and pursue the American dream. Just 11% have an unfavorable opinion of immigrants who fit that description, while 12% are undecided.

But fewer voters (57%) believe most immigrants actually do work hard, support their family and pursue the American dream. Still, that's up six points from last October and the highest finding in nearly two years of regular surveying. Just 19% don’t think that’s the case, while 24% are not sure.

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The survey of 800 Likely Voters was conducted on February 6-7, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Immigration is high on the list of priorities voters want the new Congress to tackle. Fifty-seven percent (57%) think the federal government should only do what the president and Congress agree on when it comes to immigration.

Seventeen percent (17%) of voters surveyed have at least one parent who was not born in the United States, including nine percent (9%) who say neither of their parents was born here. Seven percent (7%) say they themselves were not born in the United States.

Those who either weren’t born here or have parents who weren’t are more supportive of the president’s immigration plan than those who were born here and who have one or both U.S.-born parents. Yet even voters who have parents who weren’t born here are evenly divided on the new law.

Voters who were born here along with both of their parents aren't as confident that most immigrants work hard, support their family and pursue the American dream.

Many of those who will benefit from Obama's plan are parents of those who are here legally and children born in this country to illegal immigrants. Most voters have said in surveys for several years that a child born to illegal immigrants should not automatically be a citizen of the United States as is the current policy.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of Democrats like the president’s new immigration plan. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major party by a 50% to 37% margin are opposed to it. While large majorities of voters of all partisan affiliations have a favorable view of immigrants who work hard to support their families, Republicans are less likely than the others to think most immigrants fit that description.

Generally speaking, the older the voter, the more likely he or she is to oppose the president’s immigration plan. Most whites oppose the plan, while blacks and other minority voters tend to favor it.

A majority of voters have long believed that the goal of immigration policy should be to keep out only national security threats, criminals and those who would come here to live off our welfare system. 

Voters in earlier surveys have expressed more anger at the federal government for failing to adequately deal with illegal immigration than with the illegal immigrants themselves. In a June 2008 survey, 83% of those angry about immigration directed their anger at the federal government, while only 12% pointed towards the immigrants.

Last August, 56% said the policies and practices of the federal government encourage people to enter the United States illegally, the highest level of cynicism since June 2012.

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

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