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Most believe immigration needs to be fixed, but how?

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Friday, May 10, 2013, at 4:53 p.m.

Most Americans feel the nation’s immigration system is in need of a significant overhaul, but there is little consensus on how to do it, according to a new national survey from the Pew Research Center.

An estimated 73 percent of Americans say there should be a way for those here illegally to stay in the country. But fewer than half of respondents, 44 percent, believe they should be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship. And 25 percent think permanent residency is more appropriate.

The Senate began a historic debate Thursday on the most far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s immigration system in decades. The so-called Gang of Eight introduced the measure hoping to finally address an issue that the nation has struggled with for decades. It includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million living here illegally.

While most Americans agree that immigration policy needs substantial changes, there is “confusion” about the Senate’s immigration bill and what it would do. In an earlier Pew study, less than half of respondents knew that the immigration bill before Congress would allow people currently in the United States illegally to stay here while applying for citizenship and even fewer knew the bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators.

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