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Majority of Americans favour path to citizenship

Published:Monday | December 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Participants hold the "Oath of Allegiance" and American flags during a naturalization ceremony attended by President Barack Obama at the National Archives in Washington, last week.
President Barack Obama speaks during a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives in Washington, last week.
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WASHINGTON (AP):

More Americans favour than oppose a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are living in the United States illegally, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

While most Republicans oppose such a path to citizenship, it doesn't seem to be a deal-breaker issue for them.

Here are some things to know about Americans' opinions on immigration policy from the new AP-GfK poll:

The majority of Americans, 54 per cent, support a way for immigrants who are already in the country illegally to become citizens, while 44 percent are opposed. More than seven in 10 Democrats are in favour, while about six in 10 Republicans are opposed.

Still, a significant minority of Republicans, four in 10, do support a path to citizenship. Four in 10 conservative Republicans and three in 10 tea party Republicans favour a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the country illegally.

Six in 10 Americans, including three-quarters of Democrats and nearly half of Republicans, favour providing immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children with a way to stay in the country legally.

The new poll shows that while tough rhetoric on immigration appeals to a majority of Republicans, most still don't consider it a deal-breaker issue.

The poll shows that immigration action taken last year by President Barack Obama allowing some immigrants to apply for temporary legal status is a particular sticking point for Republicans, with 73 per cent of them saying they prefer to support someone who would undo those immigration steps taken by a president deeply unpopular within their party.

But 25 per cent of Republicans say they would prefer to vote for a candidate who would keep Obama's immigration actions in place. And another 34 per cent say they could vote for such a candidate, even though they disagree on that issue, so long as they see eye to eye on other matters.

Even among conservative Republicans, more than half say they either prefer a candidate who would keep the immigration action in place (16 per cent), or that they could imagine voting for a presidential candidate who would (40 per cent).