Immigration Debate Impacting Latinos At Many Levels – Hispanic Market Weekly

September 6, 2010 by Hispanic Market Weekly.- Latinos’ perception of where the U.S. is going has been negatively impacted by the immigration controversy and Arizona law S.B. 1070 which targets undocumented immigration, reveals a study conducted by LatinoMetrics on behalf of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA).

September 6, 2010. Hispanic Market Weekly
Latinos’ perception of where the U.S. is going has been negatively impacted by the immigration controversy and Arizona law S.B. 1070 which targets undocumented immigration, reveals a study conducted by LatinoMetrics on behalf of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA).

Immigration reform was cited by a majority of respondents as the No. 1 issue concern among Hispanics – 78 percent of respondents described it as “extremely important.” The impact, say analysts, has led to shifts in Hispanics’ lifestyle and behavior as well as in consumer purchasing habits.

Latinometrics interviewed 504 Hispanic respondents – between the ages of 18 and 75 – by telephone and online between May 26 and June 8. The study reveals that overall 1 in 5 Latinos across U.S. say that they would decrease social lifestyle activities if “copycat laws” to S.B. 1070 were passed in their states. Currently, 22 states are considering laws similar to that approved in Arizona.

“If these laws are passed, it would make it harder for Hispanics to live and work,” says Carlos Santiago, co-president of LatinoMetrics, a joint venture of Santiago ROI and García Research. “It’s impacting the mindset of Hispanic consumers in a significant way.”

The biggest shift, he points out, has come in shopping behavior.

Already Arizona, between 2 to 4 in 10 Hispanics indicated they have substantially decreased involvement in social lifestyle behaviors associated with leisure, mobility and work, except for faith activities. Roughly 51 percent have decreased shopping with their entire family.

The situation, notes Santiago, has short- and long-term effects. In the short term, it leads to a sense of reclusion, where many Hispanics will not put themselves in situations that will make them at risk for profiling – going shopping with families or groups; making frequent, unplanned trips for small purchases.

“Now, their outings are more planned, quicker and don’t involve being in a large group,” he adds. “They are more likely to decrease shopping in places where Latinos rarely go, where they would stand out.”

Sporting events, festivals and clubs or concerts will likewise be affected – 27 percent of those surveyed said that if a law similar to S.B. 1070 were to pass in their state, they would stay away from sports events where many Latinos go; 25 percent would avoid high-density Hispanic clubs; and 30 percent would rarely go to Latino festivals and street fairs, the study found.

Laws like S.B. 1070 have the power to impact Hispanics’ decision to purchase a new car versus a used one; to fund large-scale projects such as replacing the roof on a house; to make big-ticket purchases. Questions about spending money and needing a savings cushion become top of mind, especially in families where someone is at risk of being deported.

“They are living in an uncertain world, that takes an emotional toll and it impacts economic behaviors,” Santiago insists. “It’s like living a recession within the current recession.”

The situation also puts marketers in a tough spot, particularly when they are trying to recover from the long-running economic crisis.

“It seems that clients are suffering in silence, because they don’t want to get mixed up in the politics of the debate,” Santiago says. “They have to be mindful that that’s contraction in consumers’ minds and that this is an issue that has to be watched.”

Thirty percent of Latinos feel that the current anti-immigrant atmosphere is fueled by racism and prejudice toward them. Just 14 percent of Latino respondents felt that rhetoric surrounding the current immigration reform debate is based on serious national security concerns.

“They feel the country is against all Latinos; that Hispanics are less welcome in the U.S. than before,” says Santiago. “It raises concerns about their future – and that of their kids – in the U.S.”

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