Almost two-thirds of likely voters approve of President Obama’s order that allows more than 800,000 young illegal immigrants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation, according to a Bloomberg poll published Tuesday.
The survey showed 64-percent overall support for the directive and 66-percent backing by independents.
Last Friday, Obama instructed the Department of Homeland Security to stop deporting illegal immigrants who entered the US before age 16, have lived here for at least five years, and are enrolled in high school, hold high school diplomas, or are military veterans in good standing. To be exempt from deportation, immigrants also must be younger than 30 and have clean criminal records.
The order grants these illegal immigrants the rights to work and obtain driver’s licenses.
The guidelines outlined by Obama resemble the eligibility requirements contained in the languishing DREAM Act, which would give many young illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.
Both the DREAM Act and Obama’s order are popular among Latinos. A Latino Decisions poll released Sunday showed 49 percent of Latinos, who already backed Obama by a 3-to-1 margin, now support the president more enthusiastically because of the order.
The applause for Obama’s action has made more difficult presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s task of wooing Latino voters.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Romney ally, had planned to detail his own immigration plan — billed as a conservative alternative to the DREAM Act — on Monday. Obama’s order forced a change.
“We’re re-evaluating our plans,’’ Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told CNN. “The president’s announcement took away our momentum and made the politics a lot tougher.’’
Romney has accused Obama of using the immigration order as a political weapon.
“He should have worked on this years ago,’’ Romney said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.’’ “If he felt seriously about this, he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate. He didn’t. He saves these sort of things until four-and-a-half months before the general election.’’