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Immigration isn't the top priority for Latinos, survey says

Days before Barack Obama begins his presidency, a new survey reports that Latinos do not believe immigration should be at the top of the priority list for the new administration.

Felipe Pillado stands inside the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago, Illinois. Pillado, a 10-year veteran of the company, was among the 200 workers who got three days' notice their factory was shutting down. a new survey reports that Latinos do not believe immigration should be at the top of the priority list for the new administration. Rather, Latinos said that the economy was the most important issue, followed by education, healthcare and national security. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) Rather, Latinos said that the economy was the most important issue, followed by education, healthcare and national security.

Only 31% of Latinos rated immigration as an “extremely important” issue for the president-elect to address after being inaugurated. Meanwhile, 57% of Latinos said the economy was extremely important.

“Latinos are no different from anybody else,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, the lead author of the Pew Hispanic Center study released today. “The economic downturn has impacted Latinos in many ways.”

Photo: Felipe Pillado stands inside the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago, Illinois. Pillado, a 10-year veteran of the company, was among the 200 workers who got three days' notice their factory was shutting down. a new survey reports that Latinos do not believe immigration should be at the top of the priority list for the new administration. Rather, Latinos said that the economy was the most important issue, followed by education, healthcare and national security. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The housing market collapse and the decline in the construction industry, in particular, have left many Latinos out of work, Lopez said.

“It’s not that immigration has fallen off the radar entirely,” Lopez said. “It’s that other issues have become relatively more important.”

The Pew researchers, who interviewed 1,540 Latinos nationwide in November, did not ask specifically about immigration policy or potential legislation. Past studies have shown that Latinos disapproved of the aggressive immigration tactics of the Bush administration.

Although immigration didn’t make the top of the list of issues, 88% of all Latinos did cite it as important, according to the study.

The issue had even more resonance for foreign-born Latinos — 99% said it was important, compared with 75% of U.S.-born Latinos.

Civil rights and immigrant rights groups are calling on Obama to push a reform package that would provide a path toward legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Though the advocates acknowledge that economic recovery must come first, they say that immigration reform should be addressed this year.

Paco Fabian, a spokesman for the advocacy group America’s Voice, said it was understandable that the country’s financial situation was the No. 1 priority.

“We all suffer the same consequences from our struggling economy,” he said.

The Pew study also tracked Latino participation in the recent election, finding that more than one-fifth of Latinos said that 2008 was the first time they had voted in a U.S. election.

--Anna Gorman

Comments () | Archives (43)

I am a Latino born in the United States and I don't understand why illegal immigrants should be given a path to citizenship for no reason other than simply for the fact of being in this country already. So does that mean anybody else from any country can sneak into the U.S. and as a result be given automatic American citizenship? I believe people who are here should earn the privilege of becoming a citizen by proving they are worthy of abiding by our laws and assimilate into our culture so they can be productive and lead prosperous lives. That person who enters will either be a helpful and honest addition to this country but I think it's more important to address the bad apples that cross as well. When those bad apples enter the country you're telling me they deserve an American citizenship? I think this is a highly flawed idea and the negative consequences that may result are too high to pay. Those bad apples who enter the country are prone to continue their seedy ways and commit crimes and hurt innocent people. I'm referring to bad apples i..e., drugdealers, thieves, gangmembers rapists, murderers, etc., and anybody else who has been jailed for horrible crimes in their countries. We need to prevent these criminals from entering the U.S and committing crimes in our neighborhoods since we will have to pay the price should these criminals enter and be able to apply for automatic citizenship. People born in foreign countries see the immense potential they can have in this great country we call America and I don't blame anybody for desiring what we have since we have been blessed with so much good fortune. In China there is immense overcrowding and too many people and being from Los Angeles I have seen through the years how dense some parts of the city are because of the increasing number of people arriving from all parts of Mexico and South America. The more people come the more our resources are further eroded as a result of more consumption. My idea would be to figure out who the good apples and who the bad apples are so we can get rid of the rotten apples so that the good apples can help pay taxes, help our economy recover and to contribute to this grand country. Many Latinos speak among themselves that the more illegal immigrants come then the more people there are to dilute our jobs to have more people available to work and thus reducing the pay for the American Latinos because an illegal immigrant is so desperate they are willing to work for far less and that means the American Latino who makes a good wage is fired and the pay used for him is now divided in half because two lower wage workers are more desperate for anything and they simply won't complain since it's better than nothing.

The Bush Administration favored an amnesty program without increased enforcement or deportation, which was the plan authored by John McCain (along with Ted Kennedy). The push for agressive enforcement of immigration laws came from members of the House of Representatives. Typical LA Times. Never let the facts get in the way of bashing Bush.

Ok fine, give them a path to legalization that takes between 15-20 years, and pay your taxes in that time period. However, give all "illegals" immediate legal basis for being here, whether that be through an infinite visa or some kind of legal alien status. This way, it takes these "illegals" a long time to become true citizens, but it immediately mitigates the immense harm that comes from being in this country illegally. I mean, come on people, we're still human beings, these people do bring our food, wash our plates, and take care of our kids. Stop hatin' and congratulate. Yeah?

Everyone in the world would come here illegaly if they could - don't you think people from the starving countries in Africa, Somlia, the Philippians, etc. etc, would rather be here? But for an ocean, they cannot just sneak over here like the Mexicans & Central Americans do - they must do it legally and wait in line for years. The Mexicans and Centrals should not be given amnesty just because they had the advantage when sneaking into the U.S. Mandatory Deportation and self-deportation should be encouraged all the time. Employers should be jailed and their businesses closed for a period of time as a penatly for hiring illegals. All social services and hospitals should be required to ask for documentation. Once an illegal delivers their "anchor" ICE should be there to transport her and the "anchor" to their home country. The 14th Amendment was meant for slaves to gain citizenship status - not "anchors".

for any latino to talk down on illegals they must think theyre american indians these are the only ones that have the right to say anything about this great nation ,they wanna forget that their parents came here illegally one way or another. we have to help each other no matter if you are mexican,black,white or any nationallity the US needs it we must do it stop the nonsense.

Hi Letty, you believe mexicans shou'dnt be favored because they were lucky enough to be born near the United States.

Should you be favored because you were lucky enough to be born IN the United States? I think we need to remember that though they are here illegaly, they are still here and ignoring, prosecuting, and dehumanizing these people is not going to help fix the problem.

In the end we should look to the root problems that are causing these mass migrations rather than simply find a cure for the symptoms.

This goes to the previous comment. Exactly! you are a born United States Citizen. You opinion/comment is worthless! You have no idea, no clue what the immigrations system is like! I was born in Belize, Central America. I come to the United States on a visitor’s visa for 6 months, during that time I was fortunate to get my work permit and then resident card. Thanks to my hard work and sacrifice I became a United States Citizen in January 15, 2007. I did the 15 years wait to get my legal document.

So I know what it is to go through the broken immigration system that we have. I know every process, I have been there, I have done that as some people may say. This article is completely bogus! I am a Latino, United State citizen and I never got any survey in regard to what I think is/or should be this administrations 1st priority. So totally day it is immigration. Hek My brother and I rushed to become a United States citizen and voted just because of the immigration reform. That is why we voted. I ask my brother if he got any survey in regards to this article. He said no. Totally bogus article, they did not reach out to the appropriate community. Especially NEW Citizens.

Also, the immigration reform is not to give anyone automatic citizenship, it is to offer them the opportunity to have a path to legalization. No automatic nothing, they are only asking for a PATH to legalization.

We're often told about surveys that say Latinos rank immigration as a high priority issue. What I never hear about is how Latinos feel about immigration. Are they in favor or giving amnesty to all illegals, or are they in favor of tighter immigration controls? I think the answer would depend on the status of the person or loved ones of the person being surveyed.

I am a Hispanic and for now I don't think an immigration reform should not be Obamas top priority. The economy should be the number one thing. Because if we don't have money the rest of the things a not going to work. Second, should be education and after that health care and lastly immigration. I believe the illegals that are hard workers, pay taxes, have good record, pay a fine, do community service, learn about the American culture and learn English should be granted citizenship. But, they have to demonstration that they want to be here and are good citizens.

I have the pleasure of working with many Latinos who are legally in this country. Without exception, everyone of them resent organizations such as LaRaza, MALDEF, and others of their ilk that falsely profess to be representing all Latinos. This country was founded and thrived on a spirit of "unity;" the un-American organizations, such as LaRaza, and the career politicians who cater to them in return for campaign support, that attempt to convince us "diversity" is what we must accept have created a chasm wider than any other in this country. It is not law-abiding Latinos demanding lawlessness and government handouts; rather, it is the Latino organizations serving as a front for illegal Latinos that are causing the most harm to this country and its citizens, while simultaneously embarrassing a large majority of the people they claim to represent. The illegal aliens are attempting to overturn our laws, drain our resources, change our culture and create anarchy, thereby turning the U.S. into mirror images of the third world countries they left behind.

Illegal immigration is just plain bad for our society. It has nothing to with racism or all that nonsense that is used to confuse the issue. It has to do with societal order and being able to manage our culture and public resources. I bet if you took a nationwide survey, you'll find that 90% of Americans are in favor of LEGAL immigration, but legal immigration is entirely different than illegal immigration.

Illegal immigrants are criminals. They purposely and consciously break the law for their own personal gain. It's that simple and we do not need to increase the criminal element in our society.

If you're a illegal immigrant, you should be arrested and sent home. If you don't like your home, well, then you should work with other citizens of your home to make your country a better place or you should endure the process required for legal immigration. Period.

LaRaza is a joke and is a dangerous organization that promotes division in our society instead of unity.

Can you imagine a white or black organization that named itself "The Race"? There would be no tolerance for that kind of racism.

And by the way, Latinos don't represent a race, but a culture. There is tremendous diversity among Latinos.

I am a American Latino, meaning I was born here, but I also have latin-american roots. I believe we do need immigration reform, but not by allowing every illegal to become a resident. We need to protect our borders from the many criminals that come into our country from the rest of the world. Too many illegals come here and commit crimes, and our jails are over flowing with illegal immigrant criminals who have no other skills than to steal and sell drugs. If amnesty is given, it should only be to those immigrants that can prove that they have a job and can pay taxes and help our country. If they can't provide that, then back to where you came from. Secondly, I served in the Marines, and I take great pride in being an American. I'm sick and tired of many immigrants coming here and disrespecting America by waving other nations flags, and refusing to call themselves Americans first. Success in this country begins with accepting and obeying the laws and customs of this country. Like my mom used to say when she realized one of our neighbors had chickens in the back yard, "This is America, not a pueblo! You want chickens, live an area zoned for it!" Immigrants rights are not important for me, Americans rights are.

I concur. Neither La Raza, MECHA, or any other un-american groups represent me as a latino. Gang Bangers and MECHA participants are embarassing to me.


"The 14th Amendment was meant for slaves to gain citizenship status - not "anchors"."


It infuriates me how people abuse the system. I shows a complete lack of respect for those elements of our society which have made America so strong as a nation. It is wrong for a person to leave a country they believe is dysfunctional and then instead of conforming to our rules, they simply try to replicate the dysfunction of the society which they ran from.

I'm the son of a legal immigrant and I've never met a more patriotic man than my father. Legal immigration is good, in part because anyone willing to suffer through the process of legal immigration shows a true commitment to becoming an American and that commitment is the cornerstone of being a good citizen.

Illegal immigrants are the exact opposite. They have no respect for America and what it stands for. All they care about is personal gain, thus making them bad citizens.

I find it interesting how some of my comments are not printed because they express a strong, pragmatic evaluation of the PROBLEM of illegal immigration and are devoid of any self-righteous bleeding heart liberal nonsense which confuses honest discussion of the issue.

I've read the L.A. Times daily since I was six years old and I've become very disappointed since the newspaper has gone digital. There is an editing of blog material which communicates a bias which I in my youth did not realize this newspaper has.

The death of objectivity is the death of journalism itself.

Wow Kathleen, illegal aliens are trying to do all that? They must be pretty organized if they want to overturn our laws and change our culture. From what I've heard, they're only trying to WORK for a living. Just like everybody else. There's no work where they come from, so they have to go where there is work. Not to steal the food, but to EARN it by WORKING. Nobody is asking for automatic citizenship, that's ridiculous. What they need is a way to prove that they are law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, and over a period of time earn the right to stay. I agree, let's get rid of the bad apples, let the prison systems of their respective countries deal with them, we shouldn't have to. But why not let the good apples, the productive ones, contribute to the wealth of this great nation?

Immigration is Priority #1. All of us were once illegal. Get real. All of us or our parents or grand parents once hard that great American dream of becoming legal in America. That feeling that you can finally be respected and have no fear of being Deported. I once had my wife whom was illegally here in America and ever day I felt afraid she would be caught and Deported. We need to do some thing about immigration so the immigrants can start spending some of that money they have. Paying for a Driver License, paying for the car insurance or whom knows may be even buying that new car the always dream about. So many illegals here today, this would be the way get the economy on its feet. They already enjoy free Government benefits. Bye our hospitals and many other service. So you tell be a better plan.
Maybe getting money from the Treasury Dept as we always end up doing. that we might think is free but actually we need to pay back every penny and with interest.


"Should you be favored because you were lucky enough to be born IN the United States?"

Yes. We can't choose what society we're born into, but the Constitution was written to protect citizens of the United States of America. It is not an international document. It is a national document. So, yes, we deserve those protections while non-legal residents do not. It's very simple.

If Mexicans want the benefits of an American-type society, they should collectively work to reform their own country or legally immigrate. Simply because their country has issues in no right ensures that they have an ineliable right to immigrate.

If you look at American history, we have collectively had to earn the society we enjoy through struggle, commitment, patriotism and common resolve. No other society is different. If they want their society to work properly, they have to work at it.

Illegal immigration should not be an "easy way out" from the inherent commitment the citizens of all country naturally have to bare.


Have you taken a recent look at our prison systems here in California and how high the illegal immigrant population in those prisons is?

Don't give me this "hey we're all just trying to get along nonsense." America has plenty of problems to deal with. We don't need to include the problems of 20 million illegal aliens who were not properly integrated into our society.

If someone wants to come to America and be a citizen, there are rules that need to be followed. That person needs to endure the process of legal immigration. It is that simple and anything else is a false rationalization and a poorly thought out excuse.

I really dislike the term "latino or hispanic". I mean the only thing in common between hispanics is that all came from a spanish speaking nations. The US should just get statistics of ethnic ancestry and that's it. Race doesnt exist, there is only one human race. simple as that.


"All of us were once illegal."

That is simply untrue. As a child of a family of immigrants, my father and grandparents were all immigrants and none of them did so illegally.

You are making excuses to avoid your personal responsibility to this country.

Anyone directing their anger to the Latino community are just racist!
This is not about Latinos, it is about undocumented people. Yeah that’s
right, human beings. I remember in the past one of our elected officials
stating that Mexicans are trying to turn California into Mexico. They
mentioned about Plaza Mexico where there is a Curacao store. This comment
is just racist! Because if that’s the case, why they think Mexicans are trying to
turn this place into Mexico, what about China Town? He said something about
the signs and names of the stores being in Spanish. How racist can you get?
Go to the city of Artesia off the 91 freeway and check out the names of the banks
and stores. They are all in the Indian language? Go figure! So to be picking out
Plaza Mexico and make comments like that are just down dirty WRONG and racist!

Someone said Letti, I think her name is. Talking about Mexican and someone else
talking about Central Americans. How they should not get the path to legalization
since they are so close to the United States. Well excuse me! How many of my
brother and sister die trying to cross that boarder sweetie? Are you MAD? My
fellow brothers and sisters pay their price to come here just like everyone else.
So you don’t come and tell me they have it easier than others.

Everyday there are so many human beings dying at our boards! How funny can it be?
This Great Nation and its citizens that claim to be so holy, spiritual and even have
on their MONIES “IN GOD WE TRUST” making other human beings suffer and die
day after day, just because they want to try and have a better life. When this issue
about PROP 8 came up, all these so call religious people voted against it due to their
religious belief. Now where are all these fools? This immigration reform should
past with the RAINBOW COLORS LOL! All just HIPOCRITS! Where are all the GOD
dowers? Where are all those heavy DONORS for PROP 8? Come on GOD would totally
approve you giving some of his money toward passing a immigration reform for his
undocumented people! LOL! Where are the Mormons from UTAH?

I know a lot of HYPOCRITS will hate my gust for posing this. But that’s ok. I STILL LOVE YA ALL!


"The US should just get statistics of ethnic ancestry and that's it. Race doesnt exist, there is only one human race. simple as that."

I agree. I think we should stop taking statistics based on race and start taking statistics based on education and economic status. People who come from families that have had to economically struggle have a solid argument for getting some support from our government. Race shouldn't matter, but education and economic class should if we're to build a better society.


"Anyone directing their anger to the Latino community are just racist!"

You're confusing the issue.

People who are against illegal immigration are against illegal immigration not against the Latino community. A lot of illegal immigrants are Latino, yes, but that is a personal choice of these individuals to break the laws of our country.

It is highly irresponsible of you to label a person who believes in the laws of this country as racist. I would argue that it is morally wrong to do what you just have done.

I say, "Bring in Latinos to this country! They have a rich culture!" as long as they legally immigrate.

Illegal immigration is bad for the United States of America and it is equally wrong for a person to excuse illegal acts by labelling responsible people who want healthy society as "racists."

You should be ashamed of yourself.

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