July 14, 2010. Los Angeles Times by Teresa Watanabe.
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.
The Arizona law, which is scheduled to take effect July 29, requires police to determine the status of people they lawfully stop who they suspect are in the country illegally and makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration documents. The Justice Department recently joined several other organizations in suing Arizona to block enforcement of the law.
“This new poll demonstrates a tremendous shift in the importance that immigration has become for a wide cross-section of the Latino population of the United States,” Brent Wilkes, LULAC’s executive director, said in a statement. “Latinos have taken offense to the way immigrants have been demonized by politicians and political interest groups and are prepared to vote accordingly.”
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. Arnoldo Torres, an independent political consultant in Sacramento and onetime advisor to the League of United Latin American Citizens, said that finding carried warnings for both major parties.
To read the whole article: Los Angeles Times by Teresa Watanabe