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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