Guest Column

National Poll: Americans Support Jobs, Legal Status for Undocumented Immigrants vs. Deportation, 61-36percent

National Immigration Forum

Two days before the President was sworn in for a second term, the Washington Post released its latest ABC News-Washington Post poll evaluating the President’s popularity and the extent to which the public remained sharply divided on Bush and key issues.

 Among the issues the poll addressed was the President’s handling of the immigration issue.  The Post dutifully reported on page A-1 that 54% of Americans disapprove of the President’s handling of immigration, compared with 58% disapproval of the President’s handling of the budget deficit, 52% disapproval on the economy, and 51% disapproval on health care.

But the Post missed the biggest immigration story in its own poll: the American people do support the direction the President seems to be going in on immigration reform – by a nearly 2-1 margin.

Respondents were asked “Do you think illegal immigrants who are living and working in the United States now should be offered a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status, or do you think they should be deported back to their native country?” Sixty-one percent said undocumented immigrants should be able to keep their jobs and apply for legal status, compared to 36% who thought they should be deported.  

This strong support for a new approach to immigration reform held up across the board.  Men, women, Whites, Blacks, older, younger, educated, and less educated adults all seem to agree that deportation is not the solution to the vexing issue of what to do with undocumented immigrants.

Despite the strong statements of some House Republicans and others that the country and the GOP are united against Bush’s proposed immigration policies, the ABC News-Washington Post poll shows a more even split among Republicans, with 55% supporting undocumented immigrants being able to keep their jobs and apply for legal status and 43% supporting deportation.  Midwesterners were the most evenly split group, 50% for jobs/legal status, 43% for deportation.

The poll of 1,007 adult Americans was conducted January 12-16, 2005, and was released by the Post on January 18.  It has a margin of error ± 3 percentage points for the overall sample.  The poll and Washington Post coverage is available at


Contact information: Douglas G. Rivlin, Director of Communication, National Immigration Forum, 50 F Street, NW, #300, Washington, DC  20001 USA -- 1+ (202) 347-0040, x5989 --1+ (202) 347-0058 – fax -- Email:

 (The National Immigration Forum website has been expanded and reorganized at We have a NEW website devoted to immigrant integration-related issues. Check out the Community Resource Bank at