.- Most Americans have a respectful view of immigrants, and would support long-term measures to make legal residence possible, a Knights of Columbus-Marist poll has found.
“There is a consensus among the American people on the issue of immigration,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a June 25 statement, announcing the findings of a survey conducted by the Catholic fraternal order in collaboration with the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
“There is a real, viable, long-term solution to this problem that would transcend partisanship, have the support of the American people, and actually resolve this issue,” observed Anderson, who thinks the survey “has potential to recast our national debate if this non-partisan solution is embraced.”
The Knights of Columbus-Marist findings show that 74 percent of Americans would back legal residence for illegal immigrants, provided they paid a fine, learned English, and had a job that would pay taxes.
Asked about their attitude toward immigrants, 83 percent of respondents said most of them are “average people who come to the United States to seek a better life for themselves and their families.” Only 17 percent held a negative opinion about immigrants' motives for coming to the U.S.
Eight out of 10 Americans said they believed the U.S. could act to secure its borders while also respecting immigrants. The same proportion of respondents approved of immigrants' hard work and family values.
The release of the poll results coincided with the Supreme Court's 5-3 decision to strike down parts of Arizona's immigration law. However, the court allowed the state to maintain its requirement for authorities to check the immigration status of suspected illegal immigrants who are stopped by police.
Controversy over immigration has continued following President Obama's June 15 executive order, allowing some unauthorized residents – who are under age 30, arrived before age 16, and have been in the U.S. five consecutive years – to avoid deportation under certain conditions.
Although the Knights of Columbus-Marist research showed widespread respect for immigrants and broad support for a legal residence program, concerns persist about the impact of immigration on the country.
According to the same poll, 76 percent of U.S. adults are worried about the effect of immigration on the country's health care system. Two-thirds of respondents voices similar concerns about the public school system.