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Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants Supported by Almost Half of Southern California Residents, According to UCLA Survey

Nearly half of Southern California residents support providing illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship, according to a new UCLA survey.

The survey also found that more Southern Californians are in favor of increasing legal immigration than Americans in general and that nearly two-thirds believe that U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants should continue to be entitled to citizenship, compared with a smaller percentage of respondents nationally.

The 2007 Southern California Public Opinion Survey was conducted in English and Spanish between February and May 2007. Random-digit dialing was used to conduct the survey, with data collected by the Social Science Research Center at California State University, Fullerton.

The survey asked four questions specific to current immigration policy debates: Should legal immigration be increased, decreased or stay the same? Should U.S.-born children of undocumented workers continue to qualify as American citizens if born in the U.S.? Should Congress allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and provide a path to citizenship? Should the government spend more money to tighten border security and prevent illegal immigration?

Results of the survey indicate that residents are split over levels of legal immigration. One-third of the respondents feel immigration should be kept at its present level, while slightly less, 30 percent, feel it should be increased and 27 percent believe it should be decreased. As for citizenship for children of illegal immigrants, 64 percent believe these children should continue to be entitled to citizenship, while 31 percent say they should not. Sixty-one percent feel that the borders should be tightened, while about a third say they should not.

The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll asked a question similar to the Southern California Survey about providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrant, though the question also listed requirements for this path, including “registering … paying a fine, getting fingerprinted and learning English, among other requirements.” That survey found that 63 percent of Americans supported such a proposal, 23 percent opposed it and 14 percent did not know. Among Southern Californians, 31 percent were strongly in favor of providing a path to citizenship and 16 percent were somewhat in favor. Twenty-four percent strongly opposed such a plan, 13 percent were somewhat opposed and 13 percent were neutral.

While these results imply that there is more support nationally for providing a path to citizenship than in Southern California, results from other surveys suggest that including a list of stringent requirements for citizenship may result in a significant difference in the response. 

For more information on the survey, contact the Ralph & Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies at

– Diverse Staff Reports

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