Saturday, June 15, 2024

Immigration Key Issue for Latino Voters

For years, conventional wisdom held that as election time neared, the concerns of Latino voters would mirror those of others heading to the polls.  Education and economic concerns consistently ranked at the top, followed in recent years by healthcare, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and public safety, to name a few.  In poll after poll, at the bottom of the list, there stood immigration.  That has changed.

It would make sense that immigration would not have been a major concern for Latino voters.  All are U.S. citizens — either by birth or naturalized – and their personal stake in the issue isn’t as important as other more pressing matters.  While immigration may have been a major concern for the Latino community overall, this hasn’t been the case for Latino voters.  How times have changed.

The NALEO Educational Fund recently conducted a survey of 1600 Latino registered voters, 400 each in the four states with open or competitive gubernatorial or senatorial contests this November – California, Colorado, Florida and Texas.  With three out of five potential Latino voters residing in those four states, this survey offers the most current insight into Latino voter opinions nationwide.

The survey asked registered voters about the issues they were most concerned with as the midterm elections approach.  Immigration, for the first time ever, was at the top.  When asked what issues would be most important to them in deciding whom to vote for, 27% said “immigration,” followed by 15% for “unemployment,” 8% for “cost of living,” and 7% said “healthcare.”  Just six percent said “education.”

This is unprecedented, and 2010 may well be the immigration election year.  Never before have Latino voters ranked immigration so high on their list of priorities.  The poll also found that Latino voters were strongly inclined not to support candidates they disagreed with on immigration.

Two major findings also stand out in the NALEO Educational Fund survey:   across the board, an overwhelming majority (61%) of Latino registered voters says they will “definitely” vote this November, this despite historically low voter participation in “off year” elections.  Additionally, the vast majority (80%) agree that if more Latinos vote in the 2010 elections, chances are greater that Congress and the President will pass comprehensive immigration reform.

All indications point to the fact that 2010 may be the midterm election where Latino voters make their voices heard like never before.  There is no doubt that Latino voters are riled, restless and ready for November and will prove to be pivotal in congressional and statewide races come November.

(The survey was conducted June 14-21 and has an overall margin of error of +/-2. 5%.  It can be accessed at:

Arturo Vargas is the Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, a national membership organization of Latino policymakers and their supporters governed by a 25-member Board of Directors.  Arturo also serves as Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund, an affiliated national nonprofit organization that strengthens American democracy by promoting the full participation of Latinos in civic life.

The NALEO Educational Fund’s programmatic activities include U.S. citizenship outreach and assistance, civic participation and integration, voter engagement, technical assistance to elected and appointed Latino officials, research on Latino demographic and electoral trends, and policy analysis and advocacy on access to the democratic process.

Arturo is a nationally recognized expert in Latino demographic trends, electoral participation, voting rights, the Census, and redistricting.

Arturo holds a masters degree in Education and a bachelor’s degree in History and Spanish from Stanford University.


  1. Great to see you speaking out for comprehensive immigration reform!

    With extremely high unemployment, what a perfect time to legalize a vast number of new people low in skills and high in need. That’s a super idea. Throw all your struggling fellow citizens who have limited skills a curve ball!

    Also, with our huge budget deficits putting our economy on the brink of a Greece-style disaster, giving millions more people full eligibility for all our government social services is really smart (especially since almost all illegals will join the 40% of people who pay no federal income taxes at all). Let’s add $120B to the deficit and that way we can say we were extra nice to people who broke our laws—what right do we have to keep poor people out anyway?

    Another plus is that the folks we amnesty will become eligible to bring in their children, uncles, nieces, parents, etc. Plenty of those folks need kidney transplants and bypass surgery and so forth––we can pay for all that stuff too!
    Finally, how clever to make sure our schools–already sinking in international comparisons–have lots more problem cases to challenge them! The Chinese are now turning out millions of smart engineering and computer science majors—but our ace in the hole will be this vast new army of unskilled immigrants who don’t speak our language and in many cases, don’t even know how to turn on computers, much less program them. Just because no school in the US has figured out how to turn around the chronic achievement gap separating Mexican-American children from Asians and Whites—why should that discourage us from giving them millions more to deal with?
    Yes, thanks for putting on your thinking cap and figuring out your country can make really smart policy choices.

  2. Such a long spiel about nothing Janet…you speak like someone who obviously listens to all the hate mongering out there yet fails to realize the true service hard working immigrants contribute to this country…your contribution here is pretty pathetic.

  3. The Republicans are so funny, when the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. When most Americans (with Latin America roots) go to the polls this November we will remember that the GOP has gone on a nationwide rant in proposing and passing several anti-immigration legislation and have continue to blame the immigrant for the flat economy or worse. We will remember who stands with us and who stands against us, so trying to stop it now is somewhat funny, but go ahead, you will not change our minds. Is does not help that the GOP has recently attacked the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Your hate made you do it, in November; you will reap what you have sown.