Thirty Percent of Latinos See Racism In Immigration Debate

But are lawmakers on either side of the isle listening?

By Julianne Hing Aug 06, 2010

Some statements of fact don’t really need the substantiation of polling data, but in case you were unsure: Latinos in the U.S. are very concerned about immigration; feel strongly that immigration reform is an urgent issue; and feel that those efforts must include legalization for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country.

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.

The findings come from LatinoMetrics in a new study that was funded by the civil rights advocacy group League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and The Hispanic Federation. Latinos placed concern about jobs and the sour economy second to immigration.

The study also found that one in four Latinos who support immigration reform were willing to stay away from the polls if there was no action on immigration reform by November.

"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," LULAC executive director Brent Wilkes said in a statement. "The fact that immigration reform is now a higher priority for Latinos than the economy and education demonstrates that Latinos have taken offense to the way immigrants have been demonized by politicians and political interest groups and are prepared to vote accordingly."

To be sure, polling data is extremely malleable; spinning narrative out of numbers is very easy to do. But what we do know for sure is that the Latino population is the fastest growing contingent in the country. Perhaps the findings will be instructive for Republicans who criss-cross the country parroting anti-immigrant rhetoric and border violence lies, and Democrats who take the Latino electorate for granted.