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Most Americans Favor Citizenship for U.S.-Born Children of Illegal Immigrants

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While Americans still favor strong measures to crack down on illegal immigration, they oppose proposals to change the Constitution so that children born here to illegal immigrants would not automatically become citizens, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted Feb. 2-7.

Proposals to deny citizenship to what immigration hardliners call "anchor babies" born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents are unpopular with the public. Fifty-seven percent oppose changing the Constitution's 14th amendment that grants automatic citizenship to anyone born on American soil. Thirty-nine percent favor changing the amendment and 4 percent are undecided.

Republicans are roughly split on the issue with 49 percent saying the amendment should be left as it is and 47 percent favoring a change to the Constitution. Democrats want to leave the amendment as it is by a 66 percent to 32 percent margin and independents agree by 56 percent to 39 percent. Those sympathizing with the tea party movement favor a change to the Constitution to eliminate the automatic birthright by 57 percent to 39 percent.

When it comes to priorities in dealing with iillegal mmigration, a plurality -- 42 percent -- say equal emphasis should be given to stronger border security and enforcement of immigration laws as well as creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here. Thirty-five percent name better border security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws as the top priority, followed by 21 percent who say the priority should be on creating a way for those already here illegally to become citizens. Three percent were undecided.

Fifty-five percent of Republicans put the emphasis on border security, 11 percent on creating a path to citizenship and 33 percent say equal emphasis should be given to both. Forty-nine percent of Democrats would give equal emphasis to both compared to 27 percent who say creating a path to citizenship is most important and 22 percent who name border security as the priority. Forty-two percent of independents would give equal emphasis to both, 34 percent say strengthening border security is the priority, and 21 percent name creating a path to citizenship as most important.

Sixty-three percent of those who identify with the tea party movement put the emphasis on border security and stronger enforcement of laws while only 8 percent name creating a path to citizenship as a priority. Twenty-six percent would put equal emphasis on both.

Sixty-one percent of those surveyed approve of the Arizona's tough law cracking down on illegal immigrants, just slightly below the 64 percent who supported in last June. (Arizona lawmakers are proposing new immigration restrictions that the New York Times said "might make the controversial measures the state approved last year ... look mild).

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Filed Under: Immigration, Polls, Poll Watch

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72 Comments

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Angela

My skin is beginning to crawl while reading the news according to AOL. I find out that 1. we really do support the unions, 2. that we really believe children born here to all immigrants should be granted citizenship regardless of how they got here, and 3. that they are now called "unauthorized immigrants" if you please. I can't believe all I'm learning here today !

March 01 2011 at 10:05 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
celtcalgal

i had to wait in a loong list for almost 4 yrs---others should do the same --- its only fair.

February 28 2011 at 11:59 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
djind83

They ddin't ask me because if they did I would have told them in no certain terms that there shouldn't be birth right citizenship for illegals and there should be no path for citizenship for those here illegally.

February 28 2011 at 11:04 PM Report abuse +22 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

I don't care if they are blond haired blue eyed Swedes. If they are in the country in violation of our immigration laws they should be arrested and deported...

February 28 2011 at 9:53 PM Report abuse +23 rate up rate down Reply
Tony

was it a problem whe Irish , italians and germans were and still doing it???

February 28 2011 at 6:00 PM Report abuse -13 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tony's comment
carl

I don't think there are 20 to 30 million Irish, Italians or Germans breaking the laws of our country by entering illegally. And back in the day, they sure as hell were not lining up at the welfare office or overpopulating our hospitals and emergency rooms.

March 13 2011 at 1:42 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
cae973

where do they get the people for these polls from...everyone I know lives in NY, NJ, Florida, Az and Calif and all of them oppose giving citizenship to the children of illegals.

February 28 2011 at 5:29 PM Report abuse +24 rate up rate down Reply
change

The whole problem with this is the term illegal. I do not object to anchor babies if the immigrants are trying to get citizenship. I object to illegals coming to the US and having a baby for the intention of having an anchor baby. The law should be changed.

February 27 2011 at 8:26 PM Report abuse +23 rate up rate down Reply
allisonisa39e

Give the parents a choice: They can take the baby with them when they are deported or when they are deported they can leave the child as a ward of the State to be adopted by anyone that wants to adopt it.

February 27 2011 at 7:04 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to allisonisa39e's comment
hitman1650

They need to take the babies and leave. The poll must have been taken from people jumping over the fence down there. I don't buy it. Let those farmers who claim they can't harvest their crops without illegal aliens go down to the job service and hire a few of those desperate veterans who came back home from the war and others who have no job. They've earn it.

February 28 2011 at 5:34 PM Report abuse +21 rate up rate down Reply
allisonisa39e

As both parties know: If you word the questions right you can get the answers you want.

February 27 2011 at 6:56 PM Report abuse +22 rate up rate down Reply
Jody

I don't know who that "one" poll you referenced polled - but I believe the majority thinks otherwise. People need to immigrate the legal way. Maybe "turning off the taps" would send a message for them to do just that.

February 27 2011 at 6:28 PM Report abuse +27 rate up rate down Reply

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