People repeat an oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in San Diego, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 20, 2013. More than 700 people from 80 countries became U.S. citizens during the ceremony. (David Maung/Bloomberg)

Poll: 9 out of 10 undocumented Latinos would pursue citizenship

Eighty-five percent of Latino undocumented immigrants have family members who are U.S. citizens, and over two-thirds (68 percent) have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, according to a new Latino Decisions poll of Latino undocumented immigrants. Moreover, 71 percent are in households that own cars, 62 percent have at least one U.S.-born child, and 15 percent reported owning their own home.

More importantly, the poll finds that 87 percent of undocumented Latinos – almost 9 out of 10 – say they would pursue citizenship if the law changed to allow a process for them to eventually apply for citizenship.

“Latino undocumented immigrants have deep roots in America, with strong family and social connections to U.S. citizens, painting a portrait of a community that is very integrated into the American fabric, and hopeful of a chance to gain legal status and ultimately citizenship,” according to Latino Decisions, who interviewed over 400 Latino adult immigrants in either English or Spanish who were not citizens nor residents.  The poll was conducted on behalf of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and America’s Voice Education Fund.

The poll found almost one-third (29 percent) of undocumented Hispanics have a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or resident.  Apart from children or spouses, an additional 20 percent have other family members such as siblings or uncles who are U.S. citizens.

Hispanic undocumented immigrants are mostly here as a family unit, the poll finds.  Seventy-four percent have children living here in the U.S., 62 percent have a spouse in the U.S., and 62 percent have siblings here.  In fact, 95 percent of undocumented immigrants have at least one family member in the country.

Apart from the 68 percent who have been living here for over 10 years, 22 percent have been here between five and ten years and only 11 percent have been here in the U.S. five years or less. And as to why they came to the U.S., 77 percent said they came for better economic opportunity, or to create a better life for their family. Twelve percent came to unite with family members.

Two-thirds of Hispanic undocumented immigrants said they are more optimistic about the prospect of reform than other years.

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