Immigration More Personal than Political for Latinos

According to a recent Fox News Latino poll, immigration is not likely the key political issue that Latino voters across the nation will be paying attention to this election year. The poll suggests that the economy is more likely an issue that will determine who these voters cast their ballots for in November.

The poll asked 1200 Latino voters questions about the upcoming elections. The poll found that almost half of polled Latino voters said that the economy and employment were the top issues for them in the upcoming election, while only 12% identified immigration as the top issue. However, this does not mean that immigration is not a key issue for all voters – it’s just that the issue may be more personal.

About half of the people polled in the Fox News Latino poll, for example, find the term “illegal immigrant” offensive, with only 7% being neutral about the term. About half of poll participants felt that the current immigration policies in the US are too strict and 85% stated that they would like some policy in place which would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal residents. Another 82% of polled Latino voters stated that undocumented workers do work that US workers will not do and therefore help the economy. The poll also found that 90% of Latino voters support the DREAM Act. At the same time, 56% of Latino voters stated that having open borders would harm the US economy, while only 30% felt that open borders would help the economy.

Many Latino voters questioned in the poll expressed disappointment that president Obama has not supported immigration reform to the same extent as he has supported health reform. However, early indicators show that many would still support Obama at this stage at the polls. Many Republican candidates have less support among Latino voters, according to the Fox News Latino poll.

Many Republican candidates may be alienating Latino voters because they are taking strict views on English language rules and immigration. Mitt Romney, for example, wants to enact rules that would make life so unpleasant for undocumented immigrants that they would simply choose to leave the US. According to Allert Brown-Gort of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Latino voters are not necessarily shying away from Republican candidates because of the political issue of immigration, but rather because the candidates’ stances on immigration suggest a certain perception of Latinos.

According to the 2010 Census, there are 21 million Hispanic individuals registered to vote, out of 50 million Hispanic people in the US overall. Experts predict that 12 million Hispanic voters will vote in 2012. In order to win, the Republican candidate would need to secure 40% of this population’s vote.