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Who Are the 11 Million?

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Today on a press call/webinar, following the release of a new Senate bipartisan immigration bill, Latino Decisions pollsters analyzed the results of their poll of 400 undocumented Latinos.  The poll, sponsored by NALEO Educational Fund and America’s Voice Education Fund, has a +/- 4.9% margin of error and was conducted between March 4th and March 29th.

On the call Matt Barreto, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington and a Principal with Latino Decisions said, “What the data makes clear is that by almost any measure, these immigrants are Americans.  There is no such thing as a separate community of undocumented immigrants — they are consistently interwoven into our shared American society.”

“The most striking finding in the study is not news to immigrants and their advocates — immigrants come to the U.S. to work and build a better life for their families.  The clear lesson to be drawn from this data is that undocumented immigrants ARE Americans in every way but paperwork.  They are deeply embedded in the fabric of our society, have citizen spouses, children, extended family, friends and coworkers; they buy homes and cars, and contribute to the economy in other important ways,” said Gary Segura, Professor of American Politics and Chair of Chicano/a Studies, Stanford University; Principal, Latino Decisions

The first installment of the poll showed that 85% of respondents have a U.S. citizen family member, including 62% who have U.S. born children.  Overall, 77% of respondents came to the U.S. for better economic opportunity, or to create a better life for their family, and 87% aspire to become citizens if a comprehensive immigration reform bill becomes law.  More than two-thirds of respondents have lived in the U.S. for a decade or more (including 21% who have been here for at least twenty years).

Certain new findings from the poll show how important it is for policymakers to get the details right in legislation that creates a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  While 93% of respondents think a background check requirement is reasonable and 82% say it is acceptable to make basic English language skills a condition for U.S. citizenship, the standards must be realistic and achievable.  And, any “work documentation” requirements in a new legalization program must take into account these immigrants’ diverse family and employment situations, as outlined further in the poll.

“This poll shows what we’ve known all along, that undocumented immigrants come to this country to pursue the American dream,” said Rosalind Gold, NALEO Educational Fund Senior Director of Policy, Research and Advocacy at NALEO Educational Fund.  “These immigrants want the chance to build a better life for themselves and loved ones, and they are willing to do their part to earn citizenship and their status as full contributing members of society.

For more information:

First installment of the Latino Decisions poll

Second installment of the Latino Decisions poll

Recording of today’s call