As the debate over immigration reform takes center stage across the country, a new national survey finds that in the last 3 years, there has been a marked increase in the number of Latinos who think the effects of undocumented immigration in their community have been largely positive.
Forty five percent of Hispanic adults say the impact of unauthorized immigration is positive, compared to 29 percent who had the same opinion in 2010, according to the survey by the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project.
Authors Mark Hugo Lopez and Ana Becerra state that “it is possible that in 2010, a combination of a weak economy and a hardening political environment around immigration may have led to a more downbeat assessment of illegal immigration’s impact on U.S. Latinos.”
“In 2010, the nation was emerging from the Great Recession and Arizona had passed its SB 1070 law that authorized local police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected of being in the U.S. illegally,” they add.
The increase in the more favorable view of unauthorized immigration is seen more among foreign-born Latinos. Over half – 53 percent – say unauthorized immigration has been positive, up 19 points since 2010, when it was 34 percent.
Yet among native-born Latinos, the views are more generational – and in some groups there is much less support for undocumented immigration.
While 42 percent of second-generation Latinos say undocumented immigration has been generally positive for the U.S. Latino community, only 29 percent of third-generation Hispanics think the same, though in both groups, the numbers have increased over 10 points since 2010.
The report also found differences among Latinos by language, country of origin and educational attainment.
Spanish-dominant Latinos were more positive about the impact of unauthorized immigrants – 55 percent - whereas opinions are split among English-dominant Hispanics. Thirty one percent see a positive effect, 30 percent see a negative effect and 33 percent say there is no impact one way or the other.
Dominicans (59 percent) and Salvadorans (57 percent) are the most likely to say the effect of undocumented immigration on U.S. Hispanics is positive, followed by about half of other Central Americans, 47 percent of Mexicans and 47 percent of South American Latinos.
The views are more mixed among Cubans and Puerto Ricans. Thirty eight percent of Cubans say the impact of undocumented immigration is positive, but 28 percent say it is negative and 27 percent say there is no impact one way or the other. Among Puerto Ricans, it is split more equally – 34 percent say it is positive, 29 percent negative and 29 percent think there is no effect.
In terms of education, 52 percent of Hispanics with less than a high school diploma and almost half who are high school graduates have a favorable view of undocumented immigration.
Latinos with a bachelor’s degree are more mixed in their views. Thirty four percent say the effect of unauthorized immigration has been positive, 33 percent say it is negative, and 27 percent say it has had no effect on the U.S. Latino community.
The report comes out as Latino groups around the country plan high-profile marches and events on Saturday to bring attention to the issue of undocumented immigration and the lack of legislation out of Congress.