Most back pathway to citizenship in immigration plan, poll shows

Rigoberto Ramos from Seaford, Del., originally from Guatemala, rallies for immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

As a bipartisan group of lawmakers prepare to unveil an immigration reform package, a new survey shows strong national support for giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

Sixty-four percent of Americans support creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that now have jobs in the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, conducted April 5-8, with 29 percent saying they strongly support the proposal. Thirty-five percent of Americans oppose the idea.

As many as 76 percent of Americans support the idea if the immigrants in question were required to pay fines, back taxes and pass a security check and meet other requirements.

In their ongoing negotiations, members of Congress have discussed making a pathway to legalization available only after meeting certain border security goals. The new poll, however, shows that 18 percent of Americans support giving illegal immigrants immediate citizenship. About half, 51 percent, say illegal immigrants with jobs should gain citizenship after five years. Another 12 percent said it should take 10 years.

Meanwhile, the federal government has for the past several years increased spending on border security, bringing -- by the government's estimates -- 57 percent of the southern border under effective control, up from 31 percent in 2007. Still, a quarter of Americans in the new poll characterized the U.S. border with Mexico as "totally not secure," while another another 38 percent think it is "mostly" not secure. Just 18 percent think it is totally or mostly secure.

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