May 20, 2013

Most Don’t Think Legal Status Would “Reward” Those Here Illegally

56%

A majority of Americans do not feel that giving unauthorized immigrants legal status would be like rewarding them for doing something wrong.

As the Senate wrestles with proposed legislation to give a chance at citizenship to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, one of the arguments made against such a measure by opponents is that granting legal status would reward them for breaking the law.

However, a May survey found that a majority of Americans (56%) do not feel that giving people in the United States illegally a way to gain legal status would be like rewarding them for doing something wrong. About four-in-ten (37%) say giving them a way to obtain legal status would be tacitly rewarding wrongdoing.

Most Democrats (64%) and independents (58%) say that giving those in the U.S. illegally a way to gain legal status would not amount to a reward for bad behavior. Republicans are divided: 49% say it would be like rewarding them for wrongdoing, while 44% disagree.

As might be expected, those who favor finding a way for those in the U.S. illegally to stay in the country legally do not view a path to legal status as a reward for wrongdoing (by 67% to 27%). By nearly an identical margin (69% to 26%), those who oppose legal status for those here illegally do see it as a tacit reward for wrongdoing. Read more