Latino Voters Blame Both Parties for Lack of Progress on Immigration Reform


The general election is November 2 - Photo: Rob Boudon/flickr

Election Day. (Photo: Rob Boudon/flickr)

A newly released poll of Latino voters shows dissatisfaction with both Republicans and Democrats over the lack of progress on immigration reform.

While Latinos faulted Republicans for blocking immigration legislation (50 percent), respondents also express disapproval at Democrats for “ignoring or avoiding” the issue (43 percent), and at President Barack Obama who “did not push hard enough” to get a law passed (33 percent),  according to the impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll released on Monday, June 13.

“It’s clear that Latino voters are holding the [Democratic] party responsible for not making too much of an effort on immigration, but also the Republicans for preventing it,” said Gabriel Sánchez, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico.

Respondents believed the GOP is using border security as a reason to “block” (55 percent) the passage of a law that would pave the way for citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants, instead of using it as a “legitimate concern” (30 percent).

“One of the principal errors made by GOP strategists for the last 20 years is the perception they could demonize the topic of immigration without necessarily alienating Hispanic voters,” said Latino Decisions demographer Gary Segura during a June 13 teleconference call with journalists. “All of us felt this was a foolish claim.”

500 Latino registered voters were polled between May 24 and June 4 in the 21 states with the largest Hispanic populations. They were interviewed on cell phones and land line telephones in English or Spanish.

The issue of immigration is a topic of intense interest among the Hispanics in the U.S.  “Not because we’re obsessed with it, but because people’s lives are affected,” explained Pilar Marrero, a senior political writer for impreMedia and a former contributor to Feet in Two Worlds. “It’s the whole enchilada.”

Pedro Rojas, the executive editor of La Opinion, the Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles, said there are “50 million reasons” for commissioning the survey, an apparent reference to the Latino immigrant population in the United States.

Seventy-six percent of respondents decried “anti- immigration/anti-Hispanic” attitudes, with 18 percent denying such attitudes existed.

Immigration may have pole vaulted to the national agenda in 2006 with the filing of the controversial Sensenbrenner bill, said Latino Decisions’ Matt Barreto. The bill, authored by Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner, sought to make it illegal to provide assistance and aid to undocumented immigrants. It met with strong resistance and protests from the immigrant community.

Barreto said the passage last year of Arizona’s controversial immigration law SB 1070 raised the specter of immigration policy being legislated by the states instead of having it remain a federal concern.

The Secure Communities program, a state and federal partnership to share the immigration status of people who are arrested, heightens anxiety in an already sensitive environment, said Segura. He said S-Comm increases the potential for racial profiling.

“That’s how law enforcement officials are identifying undocumented persons,” said Segura. “As a consequence, Latinos, whether as legal residents or legal immigrants, are just as likely to be stopped and harassed as part of this policy. These laws directly affect their well being.”

In an indication that immigration has become personal to most, if not all, Latino voters,  53 percent of respondents to the survey acknowledge they know of undocumented immigrants within their circle of friends, family and co-workers. However, 73 percent denied knowing anyone who has faced detention or deportation as opposed to 25 percent who said they know someone who is in removal proceedings.

Immigration continues to resonate among generations of Latinos “even among people with higher income and higher level of education,” said Segura.

Even in the absence of federal immigration reform legislation, the survey shows Latinos want to see an end to raids and deportations.

They “strongly support” stopping the deportation of undocumented youth who have not committed any crime (57 percent); stopping the deportation of parents who have not committed a crime (49 percent); and stopping the deportation of undocumented immigrants who are married to a U.S. citizen or legal resident who has not committed a crime (57 percent).

Despite disappointment with both political parties, those surveyed were “very enthusiastic” (48 percent) about the November 2012 presidential election. Those “certain” to vote for President Obama registered at 49 percent, with those leaning toward him but could “change mind” at 12 percent. Obama enjoyed a strong approval rating at 41 percent, with the U.S. Congress’ strong approval rating hobbling at 5 percent.

Click here for the complete poll results.

Excerpts from the poll:

Would you say the Democratic party is currently doing a good job of reaching out to Hispanics, that they don’t care too much about Hispanics, or they are being hostile towards Hispanics?
o Good Job: 48% (52% U.S. born/43% foreign born)
o Don’t care too much: 31% (26% U.S. born/36% foreign born)
o Being Hostile: 7% (6% U.S. born/6% foreign born)
o Don’t know: 13% (13% U.S. born/14% foreign born)
o Refused: 2% (3% U.S. born/0% foreign born)
Would you say the Republican party is currently doing a good job of reaching out to Hispanics, that they don’t care too much about Hispanics, or they are being hostile towards Hispanics?
o Good Job: 12% (13% U.S. born/11% foreign born)
o Don’t care too much: 49% (50% U.S. born/46% foreign born)
o Being Hostile: 23% (26% U.S. born/22% foreign born)
o Don’t know: 14% (10% U.S. born/20% foreign born)


AboutCristina DC Pastor
Cristina DC Pastor, a former Fi2W Business and Economics Reporting fellow, is the publisher and editor of The FilAm ( Her book, “Scratch the News: Filipino Americans in Our Midst” (Inkwater, 2005), is a celebration of ordinary citizens at the center of extraordinary stories. She is a graduate of The New School.