Poll: Most in U.S. Back Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants

In this Sept. 26, 2011 photo, college student Jasmine Oliver, of Warwick, R.I., top left, and Javier Gonzalez, of Pawtucket, R.I., top right, display a banner and shout their support for allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates while attending public colleges in the state, during a Board of Governors of Higher Education meeting on the campus of the Community College of Rhode Island, in Warwick, R.I. But research varies on the effects of resident tuition rates for illegal immigrants, including on enrollment, and students may still face a tough road even if they graduate with a college degree: Without passage of the DREAM Act or other federal immigration reform, illegal immigrant students have no pathway to legal status, and it remains illegal for employers to hire them. (National Journal)

Following an election that highlighted the critical Latino vote, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that most Americans support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The poll showed that 57 percent of Americans support a path for citizenship, while 39 percent opposed such a policy. The results have remained unchanged since the last time this question was asked in mid-2010. Since then, the Obama administration has made it easier for illegal immigrants to earn work permits, though it has not addressed citizenship directly.

Among the Hispanics polled 82 percent supported a path to citizenship, while 71 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of young adults showed support. Among white respondents, the number fell to 51 percent.

Several high-profile Republicans have said in recent days that the GOP needs to do a better job at reaching out to Latino voters, pledging to look into new immigration policies. President Obama has also said immigration reform is one of his top second-term priorities. The president won 71 percent of Latino voters, compared to 27 percent for Mitt Romney.

In addition, the poll looked at two other controversial social issues: same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. The poll showed that 51 percent support same-sex marriage, while 47 percent are opposed. The support for same-sex marriage was as low as 32 percent in mid-2004.

Young adults led the way on the issue, with six-in-10 supporting same-sex marriage, while two-thirds of senior citizens opposed it. Maryland, Maine and Washington State legalized same-sex marriage at the polls last week, while Minnesota voters rejected a constitutional ban on it.

On marijuana legalization, Americans are generally split, with 48 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving, the poll showed. However, the poll marks a new high for support on the issue since this question was asked in 1985. Voters in Colorado, Washington State and Massachusetts relaxed restrictions on marijuana last Tuesday.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted between Nov. 7 and Nov. 11 among 1,023 adults. The poll had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.