As the Senate's "gang of eight" works to enact a sweeping immigration reform bill proposing a 13-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in America, a recent Gallup poll is showing that the nation is almost equally divided in its opposition and support for the bill.
For the most part, however, Americans are uncertain what to make of it. A majority haven't even been paying close attention to the discussions of the bill.
Results of the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and released last Wednesday, shows that 33 percent of Americans favor immigration reform while 28 percent oppose it. A majority, some 38 percent, say they don't know what to think of the legislation.
Just 19 percent of participants in the poll said they were following the story very closely while most Americans are unaware of some of the legislation's visible aspects.
The Senate Judiciary Committee markup, the process by which senators are allowed to suggested amendments to the proposed immigration reform bill, is expected to begin in the Senate on Thursday, May 9.
A number of reports have noted that Democrats are expected to propose the most controversial amendment to the bill – to allow U.S. citizens to sponsor same-sex partners for immigrant visas. There could also be heated discussions over the cost of the bill, which one study pegs at $6.3 trillion.
Despite the current indifference and lack of knowledge about the bill, however, the poll highlights that people who are relatively knowledgeable about the bill were more likely to support it.
People with the least knowledge on the bill were also more likely to have an opinion about the bill. A majority, 57 percent of poll participants who could not answer one question posed about the bill said they had no opinion of it. Some 21 percent of participants in the category said they were in favor of the legislation while some 22 percent opposed it.
The poll also highlighted a partisan divide in support for the bill among those who were knowledgeable about it.
"The partisan differences in views of the immigration bill are wider among those who are aware that the bill allows unauthorized immigrants to stay in the U.S while applying for citizenship," noted Pew in its breakdown of the poll.
Republicans aware that the bill allows unauthorized immigrants to stay in the U.S. oppose the legislation by nearly two-to-one (52 percent to 27 percent). Democrats with this knowledge, however, supported the bill by three-to-one (60 percent to 18 percent).
The national survey conducted April 25-28 among 1,003 adults also found that most Americans do not think the Boston Marathon bombings should be an important factor in the debate over immigration legislation. Nearly 58 percent of those polled say the Boston attack and the immigration debate are mostly separate issues. Some 36 percent, however, said the attack should be an important factor in the debate.