According to a new poll, Americans' views on immigration and citizenship for undocumented immigrants is changing.

A poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that support for giving undocumented immigrants a way to become U.S. citizens is declining. Fifty-three percent of Americans were found to support a path toward citizenship, while 45 percent were against it. 

In April, 64 percent of Americans were in favor, and 35 percent were in opposition.

"That's a big shift in American attitudes, and it's a reminder of how much the Central American children story has ruptured and re-raised this topic in a difficult way," Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the survey with Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster, and his colleagues at Hart Research, said.

The poll also asked participants how they felt about "a proposal to create a pathway to citizenship that would allow foreigners who have jobs but are staying illegally in the United States the opportunity to eventually become legal American citizens."

Out of those asked, 27 percent said they are strongly against this, and 21 percent said they strongly support it. Last year, the majority was the opposite: 29 percent were in strong favor, and 21 percent were in strong opposition.

A lot of the shift came from Republicans, whose support for a path to citizenship decreased from 47 percent in April 2013 to 32 percent.

The position of black participants also shifted notably, with 59 percent in favor of citizenship proposal, versus 75 percent in favor last spring.

Meanwhile, Hispanics' support of citizenship stayed high at 77 percent.

McInturff said this shows why the debate on immigration "has devolved down to one word, 'amnesty,' " WSJ reports.

"Now we have ... campaigns in the northeast, in other parts of the country, running immigration spots, and the difference is how the Central American kids totally reopened the dialogue about whether our borders are secure," he said, according to NBC.

According to WSJ, McInturff added that although the survey is "useful in understanding attitudes, it may not replicate what will happen in the rough-and-tumble world of American campaigns."


Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.