Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Most Americans say legal status for undocumented immigrants would help the economy

While the fate of the immigration bill passed by the Senate last month now lies in the hands of the Republican-controlled House, a Pew Research Center survey in June found that large majorities of the public agreed with a number of statements — pro and con -about the possible impact of providing a path to legal status for those here illegally.

Three-quarters of Americans say it would be “better for the economy for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status and become legal workers.” Big majorities of Democrats (83%) and Republicans (70%) share that view. An equal number of Americans (75%) said most unauthorized immigrants are hard workers who should have the opportunity to stay and improve their lives.

The number of Americans who see granting legal status as good for the economy significantly exceeds the 51% who said granting legal status would take jobs away from U.S. citizens. Republicans and Democrats diverge on this point: 66% of Republicans believe granting legal status to undocumented immigrants would take jobs from American citizens compared to 41% of Democrats.

In the category of “cons” about granting legal status, nearly two-thirds (64%) say such a move would encourage more immigrants to come to the U.S. illegally. More than three-quarters (77%) of Republicans and 53% of Democrats hold this view.

About six-in-ten (61%) predict granting legal status would result in a drain on government services. Again, more Republicans (72%) than Democrats (52%) say this would happen. Read more