Nicole Gaouette, Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2008
Latinos in the U.S. are increasingly pessimistic about their situation and disapprove of aggressive immigration enforcement policies of the Bush administration—findings that could have implications for the presidential election—a new survey shows.
Nearly 10% of Latinos said they had been stopped by police or other authorities and asked about their immigration status in the last year, including 8% of Latinos born in the U.S.
Nearly 15% said it had been hard to find or keep a job because they were Latino, and 10% said the same thing about finding or keeping housing. And 57% of Latinos worry that they or a friend or family member will be deported, up from 53% last year.
Half of those surveyed by the Pew Hispanic Center said the situation for Latinos in the U.S. was worse now than a year ago. In last year’s survey, a third took that view.
The Pew survey found that 66% of Latino registered voters backed Barack Obama and 23% supported McCain, results reported earlier. Those levels mark a swing back to traditional levels of Latino support for Democratic presidential candidates after a groundswell of support for President Bush.
Latinos comprise 8% of U.S. voters, but a larger proportion in some key swing states, said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center: 35% in New Mexico, 14% in Florida and about 12% of voters in Nevada and Colorado.
Pew researchers found that the issue of immigration was playing a more important role for Latinos in this presidential election year than in 2004. Thirty-four percent of Latinos said the issue was extremely important, up from 28% in 2004.
When Pew researchers asked Latino registered voters which candidate was better for immigrants, 50% chose Obama, 12% McCain.
The Pew survey found widespread disapproval among U.S.- and foreign-born Latinos for immigration enforcement methods such as workplace raids and criminal prosecution of illegal immigrants.
One significant difference between U.S.-born and foreign-born Latinos came on the question of electronically verifying workers’ legal status. Overall, 53% disapproved. But 63% of foreign-born Latinos disapproved of the policy, whereas 38% of U.S.-born Latinos were against it.