Asians, Latinos: Deportation Relief A Priority
The two groups believe there's more urgency to remove the threat of deportation versus a path to citizenship. Hear that, Congress?
While immigration reform stalls in the House, Asian and Latino Americans say that getting relief from deportations is more important for illegal immigrants than a pathway to American citizenship, according to Pew Research Center survey.
Even though strong majorities of both Hispanics and Asian-Americans want a pathway to U.S. citizenship (89% and 72%, respectively), "55% to 35% [of] Hispanics say that they think being able to live and work in the United States legally without the threat of deportation is more important for unauthorized immigrants than a pathway to citizenship," the authors of the survey wrote. Asian Americans hold a similar view -- 49% to 44%.
Together Hispanics and Asian Americans account for two-thirds of the 28 million immigrants who are in the U.S. legally. Hispanics alone account for about three-quarters of the additional 11.7 million immigrants who, according to Pew Research Center estimates, are in the country illegally.
Not all Hispanic immigrants want to become American citizens
An earlier Pew survey found that of all Hispanic illegal immigrants, just 44% have become citizens, due in part to the cost of applying as well as worries about passing the English part of the citizenship test. The remainder are legal permanent residents. Among legal immigrants from Mexico, which is by far the largest country of origin for Hispanic immigrants, just 36% have gone through the naturalization process and become U.S. citizens.
"There's no question that these groups want a pathway to citizenship for the unauthorized, but the surveys also show that, especially for Latinos, it's the threat of deportation that casts the longest shadow on their communities," said Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew's director of Hispanic research and author of the report.
Still, the Pew surveys also show that both Hispanics and Asian Americans view immigration reform as an important issue.
Asians the fastest-growing wave
As the New York Times reported, Asians have surpassed Hispanics as the largest wave of new immigrants to the country. The population of Asian descent is now at a 18.2 million and helping to make Asians the fastest-growing racial group in the country. The shift is also because of the sharp decline in Hispanic immigration.
The Pew poll is important because the Senate-passed immigration reform bill (that would pave a 13-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants) is stalled in the Republican-led House. But based on this survey, perhaps, stopping deportations should be the priority, and could strike a compromise, as a path to legal status -- rather than citizenship -- has a better chance of passing in the House.
President Obama -- who was voted in by a large majority of Asian and Hispanic Americas -- is under pressure from immigration supporters to use his executive power to stop deportations.
Most blame the GOP
According to Pew, if the immigration bill dies, a plurality of Hispanics (43%) and Asian Americans (48%) say they would mostly blame Republicans in Congress. However, significant minorities of each group—34% of Hispanics and 29% of Asian Americans—say they would hold Democrats in Congress and/or President Obama mainly responsible.
Public attitudes about immigration
Immigration policy is not a top priority for the U.S. general public or for Hispanics. According to a different Pew survey this year, 39% of U.S. adults said dealing with the issue of illegal immigration should be a top priority for the president and the Congress, placing 17th on a list of policy priorities. For Hispanics, one-third said the issue of immigration was extremely important to them personally, behind issues like the economy and jobs, education and health care.
Vice President Joe Biden
The VP has placed utmost importance on immigration reform, saying that Congress has a legal and ethical responsibility to the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. As the AP writes, "Many of them, he says, 'are already Americans,; whether they're here legally or not. He says immigrants simply want a decent life for themselves and their children, just as his great grandparents did.
Do you think more should be done for immigration reform?