Pew Hispanic Report: Tribe Loyalty Trumps Patriotic Assimilation

The latest study with polling data from Pew Hispanic has a lot to mull over. While the title — Illegal Immigration Backlash Worries, Divides Latinos — highlights the reliable old chestnut of “backlash” (which has been a handy tool for portraying illegal aliens as victims), some of the more interesting poll results compare differing attitudes of newbie immigrants and aliens with long-established hispanic citizens.

In the rare instances where Pew examines hispanic opinions versus those of Americans, the gulf is large.

Loyalty to tribe is a strong theme throughout, as exemplified by the fact that only 13 percent of hispanics would deport illegals, compared to a May CNN poll that found 41 percent of people questioned said all illegal immigrants currently in the country should be removed, up 15 points from 2008.

Illegal Immigration Backlash Worries, Divides Latinos, Pew Hispanic Center, October 28, 2010

The national political backlash against illegal immigration has created new divisions among Latinos and heightened their concerns about discrimination against members of their ethnic group-including those who were born in the United States or who immigrated legally.

About four-in-five of the nation’s estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants are of Hispanic origin. A new national survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, finds that Latinos are divided over what to do with these immigrants. A small majority (53%) says they should pay a fine but not be deported. A small minority (13%) says they should be deported, and a larger minority (28%) says they should not be punished.

Hispanics are also divided about the impact of illegal immigration on Hispanics already living in the U.S. Roughly equal shares say the impact has been positive (29%), negative (31%) or made no difference (30%). This mixed judgment stands in sharp contrast to views that Latinos expressed on this subject in 2007. Back then, fully half (50%) of Latinos said the impact was positive, while just 20% said it was negative.

Why would anyone, even a declining number, think that illegal immigration has a good effect, particularly in a terrible economy? The only possible benefit must be assumed to be increased numbers of the tribe, in order to further Hispanicize the United States.

While the survey finds differences among Latinos on several questions related to illegal immigration, it also finds many points of broad agreement–especially when it comes to enforcement policies and proposals.

For example, fully 86% of Latinos support providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants if they pass background checks, pay a fine and have jobs, a level of support far greater than among the general public (68%). Among Latinos, about eight-in-ten (82%) of the native born and nine-in-ten (90%) of the foreign born say they support providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

On birthright citizenship, nearly eight-in-ten (78%) Latinos say the Constitution should be left as is, compared with 56% of the general public who say the same. And when it comes to who should enforce the nation’s immigration laws, more than three-quarters (77%) Latinos say it should be the exclusive responsibility of federal authorities, while just 15% say the local police should play a more active role. On both questions, the native born and the foreign born hold similar views.

Finally, the vast majority of Latinos-79%-disapprove of the first-of-its-kind Arizona law enacted this year that gives police broad powers to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons whom they suspect may be in this country illegally. By contrast, the general population approves of the measure by a ratio of two-to-one.

The poll draws a disturbing picture of a growing ethnic group that is opposed to fundamental American interests, including national security (61 percent disapprove of border fences). They come for the money only, and it shows. There is no discernible sentiment toward patriotic assimilation.

Traditional Americans still expect immigrants to learn English and embrace the nation’s values, but it isn’t happening, at least according to a respected hispanic pollster.

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