White Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform Increases When Requirements Are Mentioned

Support for immigration reform increases dramatically among white evangelical Christians if the polling question mentions that specific requirements must be met for current unauthorized immigrants to qualify for citizenship. This was the finding of new research conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Brookings Institution.

As The Christian Post previously reported using PRRI's poll, white evangelical Christians have the lowest level of support for immigration reform of any major religious and race or ethnic group. Last week, PRRI released the results of an experimental study that was included in the same survey.

For the experiment, PRRI divided part of their sample into three different groups. For each group, they asked respondents in three different ways if they supported a path to citizenship.

Group A's question did not include that requirements must be met: "allowing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally to become U.S. citizens." Group B's question added that requirements must be met but did not specify what they are: "..., provided they meet certain requirements." Group C's question added specific requirements that must be met: "..., provided they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check."

When no requirements were mentioned (group A), only 45 percent of white evangelicals supported a path to citizenship. When general requirements were mentioned (group B), white evangelical support for a path to citizenship increased to 60 percent.

For the full sample, support for a path to citizenship increased slightly when the specific requirements were mentioned (group C). Oddly, though, white evangelical support decreased by five percentage points when specific requirements were mentioned. Fifty-five percent of white evangelicals in group C supported a path to citizenship.

In the full sample, group A had 646 respondents, group B had 673 respondents and group C had 699 respondents. The number of white evangelicals in each group were not reported. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. The margin of error for each subgroup is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

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