Majority of Americans support path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, survey finds

Nearly three-quarters of Americans support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, according to the results from a Pew Research Center survey published Monday.

The poll, conducted July 22-Aug. 4, surveyed 4,175 adults and found that 72 percent of Americans believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally if certain conditions are met. This is a “modest decline” from 77 percent in March 2017, with most of the change occurring among Republicans, the survey said. 

Nearly seven in 10 surveyed, or 69 percent, said that people who are in the U.S. illegally are no more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes, according to the poll. 

Seventy-seven percent of Americans said undocumented immigrants mostly fill the jobs that American citizens don’t want, while 73 percent said undocumented immigrants are as honest and hardworking as American citizens. 

The survey also found that just as many people agree with the Republican Party as with the Democratic Party on illegal immigration. 

Forty percent said they agree with the Democratic Party’s policies on illegal immigration and 39 percent agreed with the GOP’s positions. Nineteen percent did not agree with either party on the issue. Republicans are also more likely than Democrats to agree with their own party on illegal immigration, the poll found.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans believe the federal government is doing a very bad job dealing with the increased number of people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, while 27 percent said the government is doing a somewhat bad job. Meanwhile, just 33 percent said the government is doing a good job, according to the survey.

The public also emphasized stemming the flow of people to the border, the poll found. Seventy-four percent indicated it is at least somewhat important to reduce the number of people coming to the U.S. to seek asylum, while 69 percent said it is important to provide more assistance to countries in places like Central America, where many asylum seekers are coming from. 

Seventy-seven percent of Republicans said it is important to make it more difficult for asylum seekers to gain legal status, while a comparable majority of Democrats (79 percent) said it is important to make this process easier, according to the survey. 

Regarding the importance of increasing the number of judges handling asylum cases, 52 percent stated it is very important and 34 percent said it is somewhat important. 

Overall, 82 percent believe it is important to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers once they arrive in the United States, including 52 percent who think this is very important.

The release of the Pew Research Center survey comes after immigration agents arrested 680 Latino workers in a massive workplace sting at seven Mississippi chicken processing plants last week. 

About 600 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents fanned out across the plants operated by five companies, surrounding the perimeters to prevent workers from fleeing.

It was the largest workplace sting in at least a decade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.