April 24, 2013

Majority of White Evangelicals Back Way for Unauthorized Immigrants to Stay in U.S.

62%

Roughly six-in-ten white evangelical Christians say there should be a way for unauthorized immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally, although a majority see them as a burden.

In recent weeks, several major news outlets — including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post –have carried stories about evangelical groups supporting steps to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.

Our survey in March found that 62% of white evangelical Protestants said there should be a way for immigrants who are currently in the U.S. illegally and who meet certain requirements to stay in the country. Four-in-ten backed a path to citizenship while 24% said preferred conferring permanent residency.

However, support among white Evangelicals for allowing unauthorized immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally is lower than that of the overall public (71%) and other religious groups.

When it comes to perceptions of immigrants in general, 55% of white evangelicals believe immigrants are a burden because they take jobs, housing and health care away from current residents?, while about as many (58%) say they threaten traditional American customs and values. That compares to the overall U.S. public where, by a 49% to 41% margin, immigrants are seen as a strength to the country. The public at large also believes, by 52% to 43%, that the growing number of immigrants strengthens U.S. society rather than threatens its values. Read More