Pew Study Shows Latinos Divided on Immigration Issues

With the 2010 midterm elections coming up you’re probably wondering what effect the nationwide backlash against undocumented immigrants has had on Latinos as a community. The short answer: Worry and some division, according to a Pew Hispanic Center poll released today.

Most Latinos—81 percent—think that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay (with 53% of these saying that they should pay a fine). 86 percent of us support a path to citizenship if undocumented immigrants pass background checks, pay a fine and have jobs. But we are divided as to what impact illegal immigration has had on Hispanics already living in the U.S. 29% of Hispanics think the impact has been positive, 31% say it’s been negative, and 30% say it’s made no difference. These are wildly different results than three years ago, when a similar poll found that half of Latinos said the impact was positive, and 20% said it was negative.

Why has our attitude towards immigration changed? The answer may lie in the poll question which asked the 1,375 Latino adults who participated whether they believed that discrimination against Hispanics was a major problem: 61% said yes, up from 54% in 2007. When asked what they felt was the most important factor leading to discrimination, 36% said immigration status, up from 23% in 2007, when most cited English-language skills as the biggest cause of discrimination.

When it comes to whether foreign-born and native-born Latinos are working together to achieve political goals, we’re split down the middle: 46% say we are, 45% percent say we’re not. But when it comes to immigration-related laws, we’re pretty united: 79% disapprove of Arizona’s SB1070 law, 78% say the 14th amendment, which guarantees American citizenship to anyone born here, should not be touched, and 77% say immigration enforcement should remain the sole responsibility of the federal government.