Most Virginians back citizenship, permanent resident status for illegal immigrants

WASHINGTON – Immigration reform will again dominate congressional hearings this week, and a new poll shows that Virginians support making changes to the immigration system.

A Roanoke College poll shows half of the people questioned in Virginia favor citizenship for illegal immigrants already in this county, while 21 percent favor a plan to allow them to become permanent residents. Another 21 percent say illegal immigrants should be deported.

“It’s a small percentage of people who essentially want to find these folks and send them home,” says Roanoke College Poll Director Harry Wilson.

He adds that the large majority of those polled, 78 percent, favor some form of system for employers to verify immigration status.

The poll also found 64 percent of those asked believe immigrants are changing American society, and 43 percent of that group think that’s a good thing.

The poll also questioned people about gun control and same sex marriage.

On gun control:

  • 53 percent think better enforcement of existing gun laws are more likely to reduce gun violence than tougher gun laws, which are supported by 37 percent.
  • 84 percent favor universal background checks for a firearm purchase.
  • 73 percent favor extending those background checks to private transactions.
  • 54 percent think such checks will have no impact on crime.
  • 56 percent favor a ban on “assault rifles,” while 36 percent oppose a ban.
  • 52 percent favor a ban on ammunition magazines with hold more than 10 rounds, while 38 percent oppose the idea.
  • 71 percent said they had fired a gun at least once.
  • 58 percent grew up in a household where guns were present.

On same-sex marriage:

  • 45 percent favor allowing same-sex marriage.
  • 42 percent oppose it.
  • 54 percent say same sex marriage goes against their religious beliefs.
  • 60 percent think same-sex couples can be as good as parents as heterosexuals couples.
  • 85 percent of those interviewed say they know someone who is gay.

The poll of 629 Virginians was taken statewide, between April 8 and April 14. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

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