Poll: Americans favor action on immigration but wish Obama had waited for Congress

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    Barack Obama

    President Obama puts his hand to his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance at the 102nd Abraham Lincoln Association banquet in Springfield, Ill., in 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    Frustrated with Congress’ failure to address the issue, President Barack Obama last night acted to extend deportation protections for millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States. We gauge public perceptions on the matter with Frank Newport, editor in chief at the Gallup Poll.

    Americans favor a pathway to citizenship or at least focusing doing something about those individuals, along with border security. But the issue of whether he should take executive action and not wait for action from Congress does not resonate as well with the average American. Polls indicate a majority would prefer that the president wait for Congress, even though he has been waiting for years.

    The protections offered to the more than 5 million immigrants affected by the president’s order do not extend to health care benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

    One week into the ACA’s second annual open enrollment period,  data suggest that over half of uninsured Americans say they are going to sign up for health insurance through a healthcare exchange.

    Still, we find that over half of Americans reject the concept that the federal government should make sure that all Americans have health insurance. That’s the philosophical underpinning of the negative attitudes Americans have towards the ACA.

    What’s the most urgent health problem facing the nation? Access and cost, rather than a specific disease, dominate the responses. Now, however, Ebola is right up there in the third spot, followed by obesity and cancer. The same thing happened with bird flu and swine flu, and that fear did not last.

    The U.S. Senate failed by one vote to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline bill earlier this week. This flies in the face of public opinion. All polling shows that a majority of Americans favor its completion. Naturally, though, attitudes are split by partisan orientation: liberals oppose it, conservatives are in favor if it.

    Finally, even with the indictment decision pending in Ferguson, Missouri, Americans across the country are generally positive about the police. There are differences across racial lines, with 60 percent of whites saying yes, they have confidence in the police to protect them from violent crime, and 49 percent of non-whites making the same claim.

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