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Poll shocker: Border surge likely caused Tea Party reversal on path to citizenship

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The growing crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border seems to have turned supporters on the Right of granting a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants living in the United States illegally into opponents, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

And support for a so-called “path to legal status” for illegal immigrants has fallen across the board.

The Pew survey, conducted July 8-14, found that support has fallen to 68 percent, down from 73 percent in February, suggesting that that the recent flood of thousands of unaccompanied children across the U.S.-Mexico border is changing some minds about illegal immigration.

“Those who favor providing legal status for undocumented immigrants were asked if they should be able to apply for citizenship or permanent residency. Overall, 40 percent say they should be able to apply for citizenship, down from 46 percent in February,” Pew reported.

And, again, the decline in support is sharpest among those who support the Tea Party, according to Pew's data:

Republicans, who supported a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants by nearly two-to-one in February (64 percent to 34 percent), favor it by a much narrower 54 percent to 43 percent margin today. Notably, more Republicans and Republicans leaners who agree with the Tea Party now say undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally than favor a path to legal status (56 percent to 41 percent). In February, the balance of opinion among Tea Party Republicans was exactly the reverse: 56 percent said undocumented immigrants in the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay legally while 41 percent opposed this.

However, self-identified Democratic and Independent respondents are much more supportive of the idea of offering a path to citizenship: 77 percent and 70 percent saying they approve, respectively.



The White House's seeming disinterest in correcting the crisis and Congress' inability to come to an agreement on the issue has in recent weeks led to poor marks for lawmakers on the both sides of the aisle.

President Obama's underwhelming response to the border problem has earned him the lowest grade of any issue that he has so far encountered in his presidency, according to Pew.

Similarly, but on the right side of the political spectrum, a number of Republican senators, including John Cornyn of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, have in recent months weathered fierce and heated criticism for supposedly supporting “amnesty” and for not being strong on border security.

The president will soon depart from the nation's capital to take a 15-day vacation at Martha's Vineyard. Meanwhile, between fights over the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, Congress continues to point fingers and bicker over how best to deal with the flood of underage minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

You can read more about the survey's methodology here.

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