Fox News Poll: 66 percent favor path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, with conditions

The latest Fox News poll shows a majority of American voters believes illegal immigrants should be given a chance to apply for citizenship, as long as they meet certain requirements.

The poll asked voters what government policy should be toward illegal immigrants currently in the U.S.  Two thirds -- 66 percent -- think there should be a path to citizenship, but only if the individual meets requirements such as paying back taxes, learning English and passing a background check.

Some 17 percent say all illegal immigrants should be deported, and another 13 percent prefer a guest worker program that would allow immigrants to remain in the U.S. to work, but only for a limited time.

Majorities of Republicans (56 percent), independents (69 percent) and Democrats (74 percent) believe the government should allow a path to citizenship, as do majorities of whites (63 percent) and non-whites (75 percent).

Republicans (22 percent) are somewhat more likely than independents (15 percent) and Democrats (14 percent) to favor deporting all illegal immigrants.

Even with this broad support for providing a pathway to citizenship, less than half of voters (48 percent) think it is likely that comprehensive immigration reform will be passed this year.

Views in the new poll are in line with findings from the 2012 Fox News national exit poll that showed 65 percent of voters favored allowing most illegal immigrants working in the U.S. the chance to apply for legal status over deporting them to their home country (28 percent).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,008 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from January 15-17.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.