Immigration Now a Top Concern Among Latinos, Poll Shows

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2010

Latinos now view immigration as their leading concern along with the economy in what activists say is a major shift most likely driven by controversy over Arizona’s tough law against illegal immigrants.

Nearly a third of Latinos also believe that racism and prejudice are the central issue in the immigration debate, over national security, job competition and costs of public services for illegal immigrants, according to a national survey released Wednesday.

The poll of 504 Latinos, stratified by region, gender, age, foreign-born status and other factors, was conducted by LatinoMetrics from May 26 to June 8 for the Hispanic Federation and the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC.

The poll found that the vast majority of those surveyed strongly opposed the new Arizona law and strongly supported an immigration policy overhaul providing for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and deportation of felons. Republican Latinos showed similar views on these issues as Democrats and independents.

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Activists believe that frustration over the immigration issue will unify and galvanize Latinos of all political stripes into voting in November. The poll showed that 80% of those surveyed said they planned to vote in the midterm election and that two-thirds would back candidates who supported an immigration overhaul.

Four in 10 Latinos surveyed said they would not forgive a politician or party who did not work hard enough for change in immigration policy. {snip}

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The poll results mirror the findings of another new poll of 1,600 Latinos in four states conducted for the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund in June. The results, which will be released next week, also shows immigration topping the list of Latino concerns, according to Arturo Vargas, the group’s executive director.

Vargas said that immigration has usually ranked fourth or fifth on the list of Latino concerns, after the economy, education and healthcare. {snip}

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Vargas said he was particularly concerned by poll data suggesting that Arizona-type laws could endanger public safety. About 30% said they would be less likely to report minor crimes, and about 20% said they would be less likely to report major crimes in the face of such laws.

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