Friday, July 19, 2024

Immigration a Top Priority for Latino voters One Year after Arizona SB1070

One year after Arizona passed its anti-immigrant SB1070 bill, the issue of immigration continues to remain the top priority in all subsets of the Latino electorate.

A Latino Decisions and impremedia poll from April 2011 shows that Latino voters ranging from the U.S. to foreign born and Republican to Democrat or Independent, and the college educated or not, view immigration as the top issue Congress and President Obama should address.

According to Sylvia Manzano, a researcher from Latino Decisions, several reasons contribute to why the issue of immigration just won’t go away for Latinos.

“Why won’t immigration go away?  There are several reasons,” Manzano says.   “First and foremost, immigration enforcement and state laws have escalated in the last year and Latinos absorb the brunt of these aggressive policies.”

The rise of immigration enforcement and state laws has disproportionally affected Latinos, according to Manzano. 

“Immigrant laws, particularly those dealing with enforcement, disproportionately impact Latinos, shaping experiences and perspectives in a very direct and personal manner,” Manzano said.

Although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against SB1070 just last month and it now faces an uphill battle in the U.S. Supreme Court, legislatures in Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma and Utah modeled their own immigration bills after the controversial Arizona law. 

The current political atmosphere is also perceived as hostile by many Hispanics with deportation numbers up and the failure to pass the DREAM Act before Congress late last year fresh in Latino voters’ memories.

The Obama Administration has recently publicized a series of meetings with policymakers, celebrities and business leaders to build a strong coalition for his push on immigration reform. 

Part of the President’s strategy is to shift the focus in the immigration reform debate to emphasize non-Latino topics like education, high-tech labor, and the economic contributions of immigrants.

Figures from Latino Decisions indicate that the majority of non-Latinos believe immigrants have a positive economic impact and support a pathway to citizenship and in-state tuition programs.