Forty-four percent of Americans said it was extremely important for the country to develop a plan to deal with the large number of immigrants already living in the United States, and 43 percent say it was extremely important to halt the flow of illegal immigrants entering the country by securing the borders, results indicated.
Gallup said the results represented a shift from previous polls in which Americans were more likely to rate border security as extremely important.
Republicans place a greater priority on securing U.S. borders, by 55 percent to 42 percent, Gallup said. Democrats, meanwhile, think the government should focus on resolving the status of illegal immigrants living in the country, 59 percent to 40 percent.
The relative importance of the two immigration issues would matter less if Congress and President Obama could agree on comprehensive legislation that dealt with both issues, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said. However, the likelihood of comprehensive immigration reform occurring this year is remote.