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Poll: Majority of undocumented immigrants already have ties to U.S. citizen relatives

A new poll of undocumented immigrants released Monday morning by Latino Decisions reveals that a large majority have a relative - a spouse, a son or daughter or other relative - who is already a legal U.S. resident or U.S. citizen.

The "groundbreaking" poll was conducted for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO) and America's Voice Education Fund. It included interviews with more than 400 undocumented immigrants across the country. The interviews were done in English and Spanish from March 4-29.

The poll finds undocumented immigrants "have deep roots in America, with strong family and social connections to U.S. citizens, painting a portrait of a community that is very integrated into the American fabric, and hopeful of a chance to gain legal status and ultimately citizenship," said Matt Barretto and Gary Segura, the pollsters with Latino Decisions.

Latino Decisions, based in Seattle, Washington, is a national polling polling company specializing in research of Hispanic issues.

The poll was released a day before a group of eight senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio, are set to unveil a massive immigration bill - some suggest it could 1,500 pages - that would provide millions of undocumented immigrants a path, albeit lengthy, to citizenship, impose stricter border security measures and create a nationwide electronic system for employers to verify the legal status of all workers.

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Latino decisions poll

Latino decisions poll 2

Here are the latest poll's key findings:

  • Undocumented immigrants are ready to take the next step. 87 percent of Latino undocumented immigrants would become a U.S. citizen if the immigration system permitted it;
  • Undocumented immigrants and their families are already integrated. 85 percent of Latino undocumented immigrants reported having a spouse, child or family member that is a U.S. citizen;
  • Undocumented immigrants came here to live the American dream. 77 percent of Latino undocumented immigrants came to the U.S. for better jobs and economic opportunities or to provide a better life for their family and children;
  • Undocumented immigrants believe immigration reform is possible in 2013. 67 percent of Latino undocumented immigrants indicated being more optimistic that comprehensive immigration reform will get done this year than in years past;
  • Undocumented immigrants are incorporated into the American economy.  Large majorities (71 percent) are in households that own cars, and 15 percent reported owning their home.
  • Undocumented immigrants come to this country young.  81 percent of all undocumented respondents arrived at or below 30 years of age, with nearly a quarter of undocumented persons arriving before the age of 18.

More results from the poll can be found here.