Survey: Latinos more unified on immigration

first_imgIn the wake of mass pro-immigration rallies and harsh public debate, a survey released Thursday shows Latinos feel more discrimination but also more politically united. “Clearly both the marches and the immigration debate have made deep impressions on Latino public opinion,” said Robert Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center and co-author of the study on Latino attitudes toward immigration. The national survey of 2,000 Latinos – taken by phone between June 5 and July 3 in both English and Spanish – provided a peek into the varied feelings Latinos have about immigration. While splits remained among different ethnic groups’ generations and natives versus non-natives, nearly two-thirds believed the marches ushered in a new social movement. And about three-quarters – regardless of birthplace – said it would inspire political participation in the November elections. “This is terrible news for Republicans. Their Hispanic outreach policy is headed to being dashed on the rocks,” said Antonio Gonzalez, president of William C. Velasquez Institute, a nonpartisan think tank on Latino voting patterns. House Republican backing of an immigration bill to build a 700-mile wall along the border and criminalize illegal immigrants has spurred distrust among Latinos, the fastest growing portion of the electorate, he said. Latinos likely will make up 6 percent of votes cast nationally during the midterm elections, but in key states such as California – home to some of the largest pro-immigrant street protests – their share could be as much as 20 percent. But some say the report masks deep political divisions. “I am very skeptical of the report,” said Al Rodriguez, a second-generation Mexican/Puerto Rican who founded You Don’t Speak For Me, an anti-illegal immigrant group supporting tighter borders. “This report makes it look like we are supporting illegals and we are working to have them stay here. We are not.” Among those surveyed, nearly half supported allowing more immigration from Latin America. But among native-born Latinos, there was far greater support for beefing up border patrols, building fences and creating a government database for employee identification. Moreover, twice as many native-born Latinos said illegal immigration harms the economy – and Puerto Ricans and Cubans were twice as likely to agree as Mexicans and other Latinos. Despite the differences, nearly half – 44 percent – of native-born Latinos and two-thirds – 66 percent – of those foreign born said they would participate in a march if it occurred in their hometown over the weekend. “There’s this ethnic consciousness rising,” said Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. “People fail to realize that U.S. born-citizens feel that when people are picking on immigrants, they are picking on Latinos.” Manuel Pacheco, a 44-year-old Guatemalan immigrant, said the immigration debate has sparked some tensions at work, where he hears co-workers talking about immigrants taking away their jobs. “Everything, starts with the color of your skin. To them, we are all the same.” (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“There’s a certain sense of unity that came from the marches, seeing that people can come together,” said Ana Ortiz, a 32-year-old Puerto Rican-born waitress living in Los Angeles. “This was like you got to take care of your brothers.” But Gabriel Escobar, co-author of the report, said it’s unclear whether the momentum will translate into votes come November, with the outcome largely depending on community groups’ ability to harness the momentum. A quarter of respondents said neither Republicans nor Democrats had the best position on immigration. Sensitive to the sway Latino votes could have, dozens of immigrant-rights groups have launched summer voting drives while key Republicans, like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and White House strategist Karl Rove, are reaching out to Latinos. But the survey shows though political affiliation has changed little, those who believed the Republican Party had the best position on immigration dropped from 25 percent to 16 percent. last_img

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