Still a strong bipartisan majority -- 60 percent-favours allowing illegal immigrants, who have not committed crimes to become citizens if they pay fines, learn English and meet other requirements, the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll noted.
Those crosscurrents create treacherous political waters for the major presidential candidates, many of whom have tended to avoid spotlighting the issue, the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday.
But all have been forced to address the issue under repeated questioning at campaign events and candidate forums, it said noting that in a radio debate among Democrats, most said 'no' when asked if citizens should turn in someone they know to be an illegal immigrant.
In other settings, however, several have been talking a tough line on issues such as denying driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
Respondents were divided about what the best solution is to the problem, but a strong majority expressed support for a proposal discussed in Congress- part of a package backed by President George Bush-that would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the United States.
The Bush plan, under which illegal immigrants could become citizens if they have no criminal record, register in the US, pay a fine, learn English and meet other requirements, was supported by 64 percent of the Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans.
However, that plan died in US Congress with critics calling for tighter border security before considering more liberalised treatment of illegal immigrants.
The poll suggests that neither party heads into the 2008 election with a decisive advantage on the issue, with Democrats having lost an edge they once enjoyed, the Times said.
Those surveyed were evenly split on which of the two major parties would do a better job handling immigration: 30 percent chose Democrats, 31 percent chose Republicans. By contrast, in a poll in June 2006 showed 34 percent preferred Democrats and 23 percent preferred Republicans.
The poll indicates that while most of those surveyed view illegal immigration as a key concern, it is not the most important issue on their minds.
Asked what issue is a top priority for presidential candidates, 15 percent said illegal immigration-the fifth-most mentioned topic behind the Iraq war, the economy, protecting the country from terrorist attacks and healthcare.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Aralık 2007, 14:50