Most American voters believe illegal immigrants should be given a chance to apply for citizenship -- if they meet certain requirements.
In addition, just over half of voters like a plan -- floated by Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich -- to allow local boards to decide the fate of some illegal immigrants living in the United States.
A new Fox News national poll asked voters what government policy should be toward illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. The results were released Friday.
Sixty-six percent think there should be a path to citizenship, but only if the individual meets requirements such as paying back taxes and learning English. Nineteen percent of voters believe all illegal immigrants should be deported, and another 13 percent take the middle ground of a guest-worker program that would allow immigrants to remain in the U.S. for a limited time.
To varying degrees, majorities of Republicans (57 percent) independents (68 percent) and Democrats (73 percent) believe the government should allow a path to citizenship.
Republicans (26 percent) are about twice as likely as Democrats (14 percent) and independents (12 percent) to back deporting all illegal immigrants.
Republican presidential candidate Gingrich has suggested letting local boards determine whether illegal immigrants can stay in the U.S. Those boards would consider how long the person has lived in the U.S., whether they have a job and pay taxes, and whether they have a family here or other ties to the community.
By a 51-44 percent margin more voters favor than oppose local boards making the decision. Over half of Democrats (56 percent) and Republicans (51 percent) favor such a plan. A 52-percent majority of independents opposes it.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 911 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from December 5 to December 7. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.