Young people overwhelmingly support extending rights to undocumented immigrants, putting them out of step with most Republican presidential candidates, according to the first installment of Fusion's Issues Poll, which will survey approximately 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 35 regularly ahead of next year's election.
81% of those surveyed said they favor a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who arrive in the U.S. as children, or who have U.S. citizen children. By 78%, they also want to keep intact the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to all persons born in the U.S. And 74% of those surveyed rejected the idea that undocumented immigrants are taking desirable jobs from other people, a claim that GOP presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Donald Trump have often repeated.
Fusion's poll, which was conducted last month via telephone interviews, found that younger respondents were much more likely to support immigrant rights than their older counterparts. (Read more on our methodology.) Those differences are significant because the youngest respondents are also the least likely to be registered to vote.
For example, while 81% of those surveyed said they favor a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens, support went up to 91% among those aged 18 to 21 and dropped to 74% among those 31 and older.
When it comes to birthright citizenship, 78% of people between the ages of 18 and 35 favor keeping the 14th Amendment intact. But support jumped among 18- to 21-year-olds, to 86% and dropped to 67% among those aged 31 to 35.
The two leading GOP primary candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, have suggested they would consider revoking birthright citizenship. Another candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, co-sponsored a bill in 2011 to amend the Constitution so that those born to undocumented immigrants do not become citizens.
Regarding the claim that undocumented immigrants are taking desirable jobs from other people, most young people don’t buy it. 74% of those surveyed reject the suggestion that undocumented immigrants take jobs that other people want. This included substantial majorities across racial and ethnic groups.
Nearly four in 10 of those surveyed said they personally know someone whom they believe is an undocumented immigrant, swelling to 50% in the West and 61% amongst Latinos. Support for immigrant rights was equally high whether respondents knew an undocumented immigrant or not.
Fusion's 2016 issues poll was produced by Langer Research Associates with interviews conducted by SSRS via landline and cell phone Sept. 2-15, 2015, among a random national sample of 938 adults age 18 to 35. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points for the full sample, including the survey’s design effect.
See what young people are saying about immigration in our #DearNextPresident campaign.