How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Poll: Three-fourths of Americans think legalizing immigrants would benefit economy

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While the Senate's immigration reform plan offering a path to legal status for unauthorized immigrants may never come to fruition, numbers from a recent poll suggests that a majority of Americans would favor legalization because it would benefit the economy.

The stats posted Tuesday by Pew Research Center come from a poll taken in mid-June, before the Senate approved a sweeping immigration overhaul. Seventy-five percent of respondents agreed either strongly (44 percent) or somewhat (32 percent) that it would be better for the economy if immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally "become legal workers." Interestingly, majorities of both Democrats (83 percent) and Republicans (70 percent) agreed on this viewpoint.

Overall, 75 percent also agreed that these immigrants are hard workers who should have an opportunity to "stay and improve their lives;" 77 percent agreed that "deporting all would be unrealistic."

At the same time, there's still a strong perception that legalization for those already here would encourage others to arrive illegally, with 64 percent agreeing with that idea. Sixty-one percent believed that more legalized immigrants would present a drain on government services. And smaller majorities — 54 and 51 percent, respectively — agreed with the idea that granting legal status to unauthorized immigrants would "reward illegal behavior" and "take jobs from U.S. citizens."

All have been prominent threads in the debate taking place in the Republican-led House, where the fate of immigration reform rests at the moment. House GOP leaders have made clear that they don't support the Senate's comprehensive approach, indicating instead that they favor limited stand-alone bills on a piecemeal basis. It's not likely an immigration bill will make it to the House floor before Labor Day.

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