Latino Issues Pendulum Swings Toward Immigration

As I’ve stated previously, Latinos have a whole bunch of issues we keep our eye on, but when the policy talk and negative rhetoric hops up on immigration, all attention seems to go in that direction. A new poll from Latino Decisions states as much.

Overall, 58% of Latino voters now rate immigration reform as the most important issue they want Congress and the President to address, up from 35% who rated immigration reform as the top concern in our November 2012 election eve poll.  The economy and jobs was rated second at 38% followed by health care (19%) and education (15%).

74% of Latinos find it very important that immigration reform be passed in 2013. Latinos also found that DC must work on both the economy and immigration reform  at the same time, rather than the economy taking precedence over CIR.

Disturbing was one question asking Latinos if they would vote for a Republican who takes a leadership role on the issue, and 44% responded in the affirmative. The pollsters felt that perhaps because some have taken that role in trying to come up with a solution, that Latinos are giving the GOP a second look.

That said, things clear up when Latinos were asked if they would vote for a Republican who would block a path to citizenship and 42% stated they would not, including 33% of Latinos Republicans. 41% of Latinos stated they would defect to the other side if Democrats blocked reform.

But when it comes right down to it, they can ask all the questions they want about scenarios. How do they really feel about things?

When asked which party has been most responsible for immigration reform not passing over the last few years, 64% say the Republicans are to blame, compared to 10% who blame the Democrats.  And how do Latinos currently evaluate each party’s outreach to the Latino community? As of March 2013, things look fairly similar to November 2012.  While 72% say the Democrats have done a good job reaching out to Latinos, only 21% think the Republicans have done a good job.  In contrast, 45% think the Republicans “don’t care too much” about Latinos, and 22% think the Republicans are being hostile towards Latinos.  For the Democrats, 17% think the party doesn’t care, and 4% think Dems are hostile.

This was a poll of 800 registered Latino voters from across the U.S., by the way. The poll can be easily slammed by the right, given that it was put out there by pro-immigration reform groups like SEIU. But I will give it some “lefty” criticism, too. It doesn’t seem like President Obama’s deportation programs were mentioned, which could affect the numbers. Another criticism is that the poll seems to have missed the gun control debate completely, which sometimes seems to take precedence over CIR.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that immigration reform is at the top of the list of Latino voters again, and a path to citizenship is at the forefront of what Latinos want in the reform package. Thus far, Republicans “leading” on the issue, like Marco Rubio, are against citizenship. Add to that 2016 prospect JEB Bush and Republicans really are back where they have always been–wanting to exploit immigrants for their corporate funders’ benefit.

And Latinos, apparently, are watching and ready to blame who is stopping immigration reform from happening.

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