July 13, 2006

2006 National Survey of Latinos

The Immigration Debate

I. Overview

Latinos are feeling more discriminated against, politically energized and unified following the immigration policy debate and the pro-immigration marches this spring, according to the 2006 National Survey of Latinos conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center.

54% of Latinos see an increase in discrimination as a result of the debate over immigration reform

More than half (54%) of Latinos surveyed say they see an increase in discrimination as a result of the policy debate, and three-quarters (75%) say the debate will prompt many more Latinos to vote in November. Almost two-thirds (63%) think the pro-immigrant marches this year signal the beginning of a new and lasting social movement. And a majority (58%) now believes Hispanics are working together to achieve common goals — a marked increase from 2002, when 43% expressed confidence in Latino unity.

The 2006 National Survey of Latinos was conducted by telephone among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 Hispanic adults from June 5 to July 3, 2006. The survey has a margin of error of 3.8% for the full sample.

A growing number of Latinos are dissatisfied with both political parties

The survey shows that Latinos to some extent are holding the Republican Party responsible for what they perceive to be the negative consequences of the immigration debate, but the political impact of that perception is uncertain. Party affiliation among Latino registered voters has not changed significantly since the spring of 2004. However, the share of Latinos who believe the Republican Party has the best position on immigration has dropped from 25% to 16% in that time, with virtually the entire loss coming among foreign-born Hispanics (28% vs. 12%), who potentially represent an important and growing pool of future voters.

At the same time, the survey provides little solace for the Democratic Party, which showed no significant gains among Hispanic registered voters and which by some measures has lost some support. If anything, the survey shows that a growing number of Latinos are dissatisfied with both of the major parties. For example, one out of every four Hispanics (25%) now believes that neither political party has the best position on immigration issues, more than triple the share (7%) who felt that way just two years ago. Among registered voters, the share picking neither party on immigration has increased from 9% in 2004 to 20% in the current survey.

The 2006 National Survey of Latinos is the first major public opinion poll of the Hispanic population to be conducted since this spring’s pro-immigration marches and congressional debate. The survey helps provide answers to some of the most pressing questions that arose from those events. Among them:

A Note on Terminology

The terms Hispanic and Latino are used interchangeably in this report.

Unauthorized migrant refers to a person who resides in the United States but who is not a U.S. citizen, has not been admitted for permanent residency and is not in any of the authorized temporary statuses permitting residency or work.

A Note on Charts

Percentages in charts may not add up to 100 because of rounding.