Who is a Credible Messenger on What Latinos Want – Center for Immigration Studies or Actual Latinos?
Washington, DC – This week the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the “think tank” of the anti-immigrant lobby, announced the results of a “new” poll purporting to show that people of color, including Latinos, support their anti-immigrant agenda. Coming from the same group whose leader recently argued that Judge Sotomayor should change her name to sound more “Anglo,” and who has previously blamed immigrants for global warming, their work should be viewed with deep suspicion. However, this latest effort to muddy the waters about true public opinion on immigration reform issues ventures into the realm of the outlandish – even for CIS.
This latest attempt by CIS supposedly shows that people of color actually prefer enforcement-only approaches over comprehensive immigration reform. They state that their “poll of Hispanic, Asian-American, and African-American likely voters finds some support for legalization. But overall each of these groups prefers enforcement and for illegal immigrants to return home.” The CIS “poll” amazingly found that 52% of Latinos “support enforcement to encourage illegals to go home; 34 percent support conditional legalization.”
The questions in the CIS-sponsored Zogby poll are engineered to produce anti-immigration responses and rely solely on input from online respondents, rather than a random sample of the general population, in the fashion of a true random digit dial telephone poll. The findings are a dramatic departure from the results of numerous other polls of Latino voters. For example, a May 2009 poll of Latinos nationwide conducted by Latino Decisions found that “over 80% of Latino voters said they supported Obama’s plan that included increased border security, fines for undocumented immigrants, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants meeting certain requirements – just 14% of Latinos opposed the president’s plan.” A separate May 2009 poll of Latino voters conducted by Bendixen & Associates for America’s Voice found that 87% of respondents would not consider voting for a candidate “who was in favor of forcing most illegal immigrants to leave the country” and 89% favored a “path to citizenship” vs. only 4% of respondents who supported a policy to force the undocumented to leave the country.
As Clarissa Martinez of National Council of La Raza put it, writing in The Huffington Post:
“I think I can say without fear of contradiction that whichever Latinos [CIS leader] Mr. Krikorian thinks he knows well enough to speak authoritatively about the true pulse and aspirations of the Latino community, they are not the Latinos I grew up with in my family, among my friends, in my schools and neighborhoods. Those Latinos want a legal immigration system that works, a way for immigrants to work with dignity and keep their families together, and to be part of the United States like every generation of immigrants before us has.”
Similar research of other ethnic groups also found support for immigration reform and proves that CIS polling is not only suspect but clearly dishonest. Lake Research Partners conducted focus groups with African-Americans in cities around the country and found broad support for immigration reform and rejection of punitive enforcement-only measures.
“No matter if they’re touting ‘research’ or ‘polling,’ CIS is interested in anti-immigration advocacy above all else,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “In fact, the American public broadly rejects enforcement-only approaches and is seeking a practical solution to the broken immigration system, not the CIS mix of demagoguery and dysfunctional policy approaches.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.