More than Half Back Citizenship and Border Security Plans Alike

By Gary Langer

Jul 18, 2013 7:00am

More than half of Americans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and stricter border control alike – but with views on border enforcement significantly tempered by the multibillion-dollar price tag.

When the cost isn’t mentioned, 64 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support adding 20,000 border control agents and 700 miles of fence along the U.S. border with Mexico. Given the $46 billion price tag, however, support declines to 53 percent.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

Fifty-five percent, in the meantime, support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants now living in the United States, similar to what it’s been in a series of ABC/Post polls that have asked the question since last fall. (Support peaked at 62 percent, in a poll in April, which specified that applicants would need to pay a fine and meet other conditions.)

The two issues, combined in a Senate bill on immigration reform, have distinct support profiles in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. A path to citizenship gets markedly higher support from Hispanics, nonwhites overall, young adults, liberals and Democrats, compared with others. Stricter border control, for its part, is more popular among Republicans and conservatives.

Support for a path to citizenship peaks at about three-quarters (77 percent) among Hispanics and liberals alike, compared with 49 percent of whites and 36 percent of “very” conservatives. It also reaches nearly three-quarters among 18- to 29-year-olds, vs. 54 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds and only 47 percent of those 50 or older.

When the price of increased border security is not mentioned, 84 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of conservatives support it, compared with 56 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of liberals. If the price tag in the Senate bill is included, support for stricter border control slips by similar amounts across partisan and ideological groups. Among other groups, some of the sharpest drops in support given the $46 billion cost are among younger, lower-income and less-educated adults, and nonwhites.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone July 10-14, 2013, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,004 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS/Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa.

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