Well over half of young Republican voters think illegal immigrants should be offered a path to U.S. citizenship if they meet “certain conditions,” according to a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute.
The PRRI’s American Values Atlas found that Republicans in the 18 to 29 age cohort have a significantly more liberal outlook than their older counterparts on the citizenship question, reflecting generational differences found across the American electorate regardless of party affiliation.
Among all Republicans, support for a path to citizenship stands at about 55 percent. When only Republicans between the ages of 18 to 29 are surveyed, that figure rises to 62 percent.
Young Republicans also take a softer line than older generations on other immigration-related questions, according to the PRRI poll.
When asked about discrimination against immigrants in the U.S., 41 percent of Republicans of all ages say immigrants face discrimination “a lot,” but the figure jumps to 60 percent among the youngest cohort of Republican voters. In contrast, only about a third of GOP voters 65 and older think immigrants experience discrimination.
Among all Americans, 63 percent say there’s a lot of discrimination against immigrants, but GOP voters between the ages of 18 and 29 are the only subgroup of Republicans in which a majority of respondents agree with that assertion.
The split between young and old Republicans on immigration questions is in keeping with a more permissive attitude among younger generations about a range of issues including gay marriage and multiculturalism, according to PRRI surveys. Many young Republicans believe increased diversity is a net benefit to the U.S.
Ryan Kromsky, a former University of Maryland student and co-founder of the school’s Progressive College Republicans, believes immigrants should be welcomed with “open arms” because they are “hard workers, bright students and aspiring capitalists.”
“Closed-minded Republicans need to expand their perspective to see how immigrants are helping us all create a better America,” the 24-year-old financial systems analyst told the Associated Press. “I believe that this will change with the younger generation of Republicans.”
The American Values Atlas poll results come from 40,509 interviews conducted by telephone, including 24,266 interviews via mobile phones, between May 18, 2016, and January 10, 2017. The margin of error is plus or minus 0.6 percentage points.