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New poll: Bare majority favors immigration reform; support for border security high

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Byron York,Immigration

As the Senate turns to full-time debate on the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill, a new poll shows the barest of majorities supports the effort. In a new CNN survey, 51 percent of respondents said they support the bill, while 45 percent said they oppose it. That number is well below the results of other surveys, some by groups with pro-reform agendas, that showed higher support for reform.

The question CNN asked was:

The U.S. Senate is considering an immigration bill that would attempt to increase border security and create a path to citizenship for many immigrants who are in this country without permission from the U.S. government. Based on what you have read or heard about this bill, do you favor or oppose it?

Democrats said they support reform 59-38. Independents supported it by the tiniest of margins, 49-48. And Republicans were split down the middle on reform 48-48.

CNN also asked another question: “What should be the main focus of the U.S. government in dealing with immigration policy?” The possible answers were “Creating a path to citizenship for many immigrants who are in this country without permission from the U.S. government” and “Increasing border security to reduce or eliminate the number of immigrants coming into this country without permission from the U.S. government.”

Sixty-two percent said that increasing border security should be the main focus of the government, while 36 percent said creating a path to citizenship. There were significant differences between the parties. Democrats favored path to citizenship by a 50-49 margin. Independents answered border security by a 65-33 margin. And Republicans favored border security by a 74-24 margin.

The Gang of Eight bill under consideration is based on a sequence in which currently-illegal immigrants are first awarded legal status, and then border security is increased, and then the immigrants move to a path to citizenship. Other polls that asked specifically about the order of events in the bill have shown large majorities favor of security first, then legalization and then a path to citizenship.

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Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner