WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — More than seven-in-ten Americans – 71 percent – say illegal immigrants should be allowed to remain in the U.S. legally if they meet basic citizenship requirements.

A new Pew Research Center survey shows the large majority of Americans favor providing illegal immigrants with some form of legal status. Forty-three percent of the public say they should be allowed to apply for citizenship, while 24 percent of respondents say that they should only be allowed to apply for legal residency.

Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents stated that illegal immigrants should not be allowed to stay legally, with 2 percent saying they did not know.

According to the Pew pol, in 2011, there were about 40 million immigrants in the United States. Of that total, 11.1 million, or 28 percent, were in this country illegally. The national survey by the Pew Research Center was conducted Mar. 13-17 among 1,501 American adults. It finds that overall attitudes about immigrants in the United States are more positive than negative, despite the country’s struggling economy.

Regarding immigrants in general, 49 percent of Americans say they strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents, while 41 percent say they are a burden because they take jobs, health care and housing. In a June 2010 poll, 39 percent of respondents said immigrants strengthened the country, while 50 percent said they were a burden.

But even with one of the biggest hurdles to an immigration overhaul overcome, congressional lawmakers on Sunday cautioned they had not finished work on a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants. The AFL-CIO and the pro-business U.S. Chamber of Commerce reached a deal late Friday that would allow tens of thousands of low-skill workers into the country to fill jobs in construction, restaurants and hotels.


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