Most Americans back citizenship for illegal immigrants: Poll

Washington, April 12 (IANS) Most Americans support creating a pathway to citizenship for America’s over 11 million immigrants, including some 260,000 Indians, with a shorter timeline than that contemplated by Congress, according to a new poll.

With the Senate close to considering an overhaul of immigration laws, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll also found that nearly two-thirds favour giving citizenship to those who came to the US illegally and now hold jobs.

Support jumped to 76 percent for a plan that required immigrants to pay fines, back taxes and pass a security check, among other measures, to gain citizenship.

Bipartisan legislation now being written in the Senate could open a pathway to citizenship with similar requirements.

The Senate plan would allow immigrants to apply for permanent legal residency, also known as a green card, only if border-security targets and other requirements have been met-a process expected to take about 10 years, the Journal said citing people familiar with it.

But the poll found strong support for a faster timeline, with 51 percent saying illegal immigrants with jobs should gain citizenship after five years.

An additional 18 percent backed immediate citizenship. Some 12 percent said citizenship should be granted after 10 years. Only 14 percent said those immigrants should never be eligible for citizenship.

While 80 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents support a pathway to citizenship, a slim majority of Republicans still oppose such a measure, a fact that helps explain the tentative path such a plan will likely face in the Republican-controlled House.

The survey of 1,000 adults, taken April 5-8, was based on nationwide telephone interviews. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, the Journal said.

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