(WASHINGTON) — Americans are becoming increasingly more lenient in their views about illegal immigrants, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
Seven in ten respondents now say that undocumented aliens should be able to remain in the U.S. with some legal status instead of returning to their home country, while the remainder believe they should go back to their places of origin.
Minorities and college-educated Americans overwhelmingly approve of illegal immigrants staying in the U.S., Pew found, while those with a high school education or less were the least inclined to feel this way.
However, the hot button issue of whether to make undocumented aliens U.S. citizens is far less popular. At the moment, just 43 percent say that there should be a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Others contend that permitting them legal status is preferable, although critics maintain that by doing so, it will create second-class citizens who will not enjoy the same rights as other Americans, including the ability to vote.
In another sign of changing attitudes, 49 percent say immigrants help make the U.S. stronger, while 41 percent contend they are a burden. That’s essentially a reversal of how people felt in 2010 when Pew asked the same question.
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Carma Hassan and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN Newswire
Eliott C. McLaughlin, Joshua Berlinger and Ashley Fantz, CNN