Most Americans see the merits of putting the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country on the path to citizenship, says US immigration lobbyist and former Congressman Bruce Morrison.

Morrison, whose 1990-sponsored law gave nearly 50,000 Irish nationals green cards to work in the United States, said that a recent poll indicates that Americans understand that creating a pathway to citizenship is about "joining the nation," reports the Irish Times.

According to a poll by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, 63 percent of Americans are in favor of creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

“I hope in the debate about immigration that people take the wisdom of the American people. It is not about a reward; this is about earning and learning your place in America,” said Morrison, who works as a lobbyist in Washington, including for Irish American groups on immigration.

Morrison said that for Irish Americans, being Irish is about celebrating their heritage, but it does not make them less American.

“That is true of every immigrant group in this country,” said the former Democratic congressman.

“The Irish part of it is that we can retain our heritage… It doesn’t need to be a source of division. It is a source of strength. It is a source of diversity. It is a source of nation-building.”