Published on TheHill.com on March 12, 2013
A new poll taken by Mexico’s leading public opinion researcher shows that U.S. citizens of Latino descent are potentially strong allies of the Republican Party. The survey found strong indications that Latinos in the U.S. are deeply worried that the Democratic Party could lead their new country down the same path to debt and dependence that bedeviled the nations they left to come here.
By 59-34 percent, U.S. Latinos agreed that “Democrats are closer to the leaders we had in Latin America, always giving handouts to get votes. If we let them have their way, we will end up being like the countries our families came from, not like the America of great opportunities we all came to.”
By 78-16 percent, U.S. Latinos agreed that Latino immigrants must “not go the way some have gone into high unemployment, crime, drugs, and welfare.
They must be more like the hard working immigrants who came here and worked their way up without depending on the government.” More important, when asked which party most shares this sentiment, they chose the Republicans, by a margin of 45-29 percent.
These startling findings come from a voluminous survey conducted by the former Public Opinion coordinator for the office of the Presidency in Mexico, Rafael Giménez. The survey interviewed 1,100 U.S. citizens of Latino origin using telephone, cellphone and many in-person interviews conducted between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15 of this year. The survey was organized and funded by John Jordan of Jordan Winery, a prominent Republican donor.
Latinos feel Republicans are more likely than Democrats to work hard to reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy (45-31); more likely than Democrats to agree that “the family fabric in America is being ripped apart. Parents are too permissive. There is too much divorce, too many unwed mothers, and too many children who don’t listen to their parents” (49-32); more likely than Democrats to avoid “ruining the United States” through too much debt (39-37).
By 47-31, Latinos agree that Republicans would do more to “strengthen churches so they can help the poor and teach values of faith and family.” By 89-8, they think that “too many people depend on the government and its handouts. That way of thinking is very bad and leads to lifetimes of unemployment, poverty, and crime.” And, by 45-37, they believe the Republican Party is more likely to share their view than Democrats are.
So why did the Latinos vote by a margin of three to one for President Obama and the Democrats? According to Giménez’s survey, the answer is immigration reform. While national surveys last year showed immigration third or fourth among Latino priorities, this survey put it first by a two to one margin over jobs, which came in second.
Latinos want all “undocumented” immigrants — by 85-7 they prefer that word to “illegal” — to be granted legal status immediately, as well as a path to citizenship. But, they are divided on how long the path must be. While 56 percent want immediate citizenship, 44 percent are willing to wait “a few years.”
More ominous is their view of why the Republican Party has opposed immigration reform. By 61-32, they say the party is “biased against Latinos and Hispanics.”
Latinos are suspicious of those opposed to immigration legislation. While 47 percent credit them with opposing it because they feel that “only people who have obeyed the law and entered the country legally should become citizens,” 41 percent see a darker motivation: that they do not want “a lot of Latinos in the U.S.” and are “using the law as an excuse to keep them out.”
Last week, in this space, I discussed a national survey of Republicans by John McLaughlin that found broad support for immigration reform. His survey found 66 percent of U.S. Republican likely voters support immigration reform with a path to citizenship and 75 percent back the bill from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) after hearing an overview of its provisions.
The issue of immigration reform is life or death for the Republican Party. The party’s voters realize it. Let’s hope their congressional representatives do, too.
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