There are around 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The majority of them are Latinos. According to Migration Policy institute, there are approximately 9 million undocumented immigrants of Latin origin in the U.S
What is the view of illegal immigration among the 54.1 million Latinos in America? Do they believe it is beneficial for the nation? Do they favor a path for citizenship? Do they support the immigration cause or are apathetic to it?
One may deduce that Latinos support the wellbeing of other Latinos entering the country illegally. Especially if these Latinos are fleeing poverty, hunger and violence. It is a human instinct that members of a particular group profess solidarity to their own community. But are those assertions valid?
The Latino View Of Illegal Immigration
According to Pew Research, the Latino view regarding illegal immigration is not as positive as one may believe. In 2010, for example, 29% of all Latinos believed that illegal immigration is positive for the nation. But more than half (61%) said undocumented immigrants had a negative impact or not impact at all in the U.S
Image Source: Pewhispanic
What about Latinos born in the U.S? Well, 60% of second generation Latinos believed that undocumented immigrants had either a negative effect or no effect at all. For third generation Latinos, 75% said that undocumented immigrants had either a negative impact or no impact at all. Among them, only 19% (2 out of 10) believed illegal immigration made a positive contribution to America.
In a more recent 2014 Pew survey, 45% of all Latinos believed that undocumented immigrants made a positive contribution. Latinos voters seem more supportive of immigration: 66% of them believe a new immigration reform is very important.
The McLaughing Survey Research
By reviewing other sources, it seems the Latino view about undocumented workers has not substantially changed.
The Mclaughing Survey Research released a study two years ago. The report showed that 57% of Latino adults support a tougher border enforcement to keep undocumented immigrants out. 51% of Latino adults also wanted additional fencing and more border agents and surveillance. 57% of them also supported the implementation of e-verify to prevent the hiring of undocumented workers. But most of them said that it was important to obtain a immigration reform. The survey reported that 56% of all Hispanic adults “support an immigration reform bill that lets undocumented immigrants stay in the country legally, but not to get welfare or food stamps”
Only 46% of Latino registered voters back a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.
Thus we can see that a majority of Latinos in the U.S support increased border security and believe that illegal immigration has negative consequences for the nation. Second and third generation Latinos are more convinced of the negative effects of illegal immigration. Conversely, comprehensive immigration reform still has wide appeal for the majority of Latinos.
See Also: How US Immigration, and the public’s attitude towards Immigration, has changed between 2005 and 2014
It’s The Economy Stupid
Image Source: Pewresearch
The Latino sentiment regarding undocumented immigrants could also be foreseen by checking other statistics. Most Hispanic voters do not consider immigration their primary concern. In the latest poll by Pew, the majority said that jobs and the economy (54%), education (55%) and health care (50%) are their three priorities during the presidential campaign. Immigration comes fifth, with only 33%. In general terms, immigration is not a deal-breaker in deciding the latino vote.
Meanwhile, President Obama separated more than 270,000 Latino families, leaving hundreds of helpless children in foster homes. Nowadays, immigration cause has still not advanced. The last time America had an immigration reform was in 1986, when President Reagan legalized three million people. Almost thirty years later, undocumented immigrants have been unable to obtain another immigration reform.
This review would be incomplete without a further analysis. Towards that end, it is mandatory to ask some uncomfortable questions. Why do Latinos not support the plight of Latinos living illegally in the U.S?
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A Peculiar Presidential Campaign: The Myths That America Lives By
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There are some myths that populations live by. Patriotism, nationalism and a strong American identity are beneficial to an extent. But lately, it seems that the myths America live by have turned rancid. Sectors of America have chosen the path of provincialism, distancing from that Great America that opened comforting arms to immigrants from all over the world.
Nobody could’ve foreseen the shift America has taken. Having a leading GOP candidate such as Donald Trump sprouting bigotry and, surprisingly, getting away with it. Donald Trump says that most “illegals” are criminals, while the public didn’t bother to have an intense debate about his remarks. After all, the blessing of America resides in our unrestrained freedom of speech. And as Noam Chomsky said, “if we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
But although Trump’s speech has the right to be heard, it is dangerous, as it is mindboggling to see his massive following. Labelling an ethnic group and singling them out have disastrous consequences. History has plenty of examples of what somber repercussions such rhetoric may produce.
Trump announced a deportation agenda, inferring that Latinos may be held in temporary detention centers. He has no hesitation in sprouting hate speech, especially in a nation largely plagued by the cancer of racism.
The fact that Trump’s xenophobia has not caused massive protests both surprises and terrifies me. Far more exasperating is seeing an African American candidate as Ben Carson assuring that a Muslim should never become a U.S President. Have we reached the point where two different minorities are also divisive? By allowing such comments, this soon may turn into a xenophobic presidential race.
Where is America heading to? Carson and Trump have the right to say what they wish. Granted, this is the land of the free. Let us encourage freedom of speech together, let us be tolerant together, but please let’s not be stupid together.
What About Our Latino Refugees?
Image Source: Bethechange
People often pose me the question: How come news about European refugees abound but nothing is said about the Latino refugees entering the US? The answer can be distressing. But it’s better to confront reality with the blow of a painful truth, than live a fantasy that desensitizes us to the plight of Latino children: Many Latinos simply do not care. This is why the majority have not protested for their own rights.
When analyzing the Latino community, one sees lack of mutual support, lack of solidarity and lack of representation. And here we arrive at the core: lack of support and solidarity leads to lack of representation. And lack of representation opens the door to more injustices against Latinos. Our greatest adversary is not racial prejudice, government intransigence or Donald Trump: it’s ourselves. Latinos have been their own worst enemy. If Donald Trump gathered such support was partly our fault: to our apathy, our inability to stand for our rights as human beings, and mainly, for our fear.
Analyzing it deeper, the current events make sense. After examining the surveys, it is obvious to see why Latinos are unable to obtain an immigration reform, or plea for solidarity for the refugees or make advances for beneficial causes. Most of our issues have not progressed due to our lack of empathy, and also for our lack of self-respect. If we don’t respect ourselves first, nobody else will. And now we face the consequences. We simply do not count in mainstream politics, and we only have ourselves to blame. In the Great Soirée of American Politics, we could have shined as outstanding speakers. Instead, we decided to be the butlers, serve cocktails and let others decide for us.
There is also no leadership: someone enabled to tell the truth about our issues and embody what latinos truly seek. As harsh as this may sound, Latinos are either truly unconcerned or live in a state of alienation. The second assertion seems appropriate. Only an alienated community can remain insensitive to the suffering of refugee children and the ghostly status of nine million undocumented Latinos living on the fringes of society. We are numbed by an inferiority complex and a spirit of servility. How did we end up in such robotic mode?
Truth always hurts. But my duty as an intellectual is not to make people comfortable with harmful lies. It’s rather the opposite: to make them uncomfortable with unbearable truths, because only that can redeem us from the evils that will keep plaguing this nation in the years ahead.
As Latinos who have emigrated to the Unites States, we should not be so quick to pull the ladder up from behind us.