The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Earls (202) 494-8555

Heated Immigration Debate Lighting a Fire Under Latino Voters

Three Recent Polls Show Impact the Immigration Issue will have on 2010 Races


A new summary of
recent Latino voter polls highlights the way the immigration debate is
influencing Latino political engagement in the run-up to the November
mid-terms. The lack of action on comprehensive immigration could dampen
enthusiasm among Latino voters at a crucial time. According to an article in
today's POLITICO: "The swing in opinion couldn't come at a worse time
for Democrats, who need a strong Latino turnout in November if they hope
to maintain control of Congress. That voting bloc could be decisive in
dozens of competitive House, Senate and gubernatorial races across the
West, according to a report by America's Voice, an immigration reform
advocacy group."

However, the three recent polls also make clear
that national attention to Arizona's anti-immigrant law and the
negative rhetoric espoused mainly by Republicans-like the latest flap
over repealing the 14th Amendment-could, in fact, energize Latinos to
turn out this year and punish Republicans.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of
America's Voice, "Clearly, the current immigration debate-including the
national attention to Arizona's anti-immigrant law-is having a major
impact on the way Latino voters view the two political parties and the
importance of voting in November. While the lack of action on
comprehensive immigration reform could depress turnout and harm
Democrats who are most 'on the hook' for delivering that core priority,
the anxiety over Arizona's anti-immigration law and heated rhetoric from
the GOP is having a mobilizing effect on Latino voters that could hurt
Republicans in November and beyond. While the story of the 2010
mid-term elections remains to be written, it is clear that Latino voters
and the immigration issue in general will be a key chapter."

The polling summary highlights the results of
three recent surveys conducted by LatinoMetrics
for the Hispanic Federation and League of United Latin American
Citizens (LULAC); Dr. Ricardo Ramirez
of the University of Southern California for the National Association
of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund (NALEO); and
the National Opinion
Research Center (NORC
) at the University of Chicago for
Associated Press-Univision.

The key findings in the public opinion roundup

  • Immigration is Now a Top Concern for Latinos: For the first time in recent memory,
    immigration has joined the economy and jobs as the top issue for
  • Latinos Feel Under Siege Because of
    Immigration Debate
    The harsh nature of the immigration debate in recent months has
    contributed to Latinos feeling "less optimistic and more under siege,"
    in the words of Arturo Vargas, NALEO's Executive Director and a sponsor
    of one of the surveys.
  • Immigration - and Arizona's SB1070 - are
    Motivating Latinos to Vote
    : The polling found overwhelming opposition among Latinos to the
    Arizona SB1070 law and a direct linkage between the current immigration
    debate and their motivation to vote this year.
  • Latino Voters Will Punish Republicans Who
    Oppose Immigration Reform
    : Latino voters see the Republican Party as hostile toward them,
    and view immigration as a non-negotiable "threshold" issue.
  • Latino Voters Want Democrats to Deliver: While a majority of Latinos favor
    Democrats, they express disillusionment about the lack of progress on
    immigration reform.
  • Lack of Action on Immigration is Hurting
    President Obama
    While President Obama remains popular with Latino voters, they are less
    positive about his handling of issues specific to them and their
    families - issues like immigration.
  • Foreign-Born Latino Voters are the Major Swing
    Bloc Who Care Most About Immigration
    : Naturalized citizens are a key sub-group of
    the Latino vote, whose engagement this year may help tip the scales in a
    number of races.
    These voters feel more of a personal connection to the immigration
    debate, feel more persecuted and under siege than U.S. born Latinos, and
    right now are less likely to turn out in 2010 unless given a reason to
    do so.

Summary of Latino Opinion Polls:

America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America's Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.