Story at a glance

  • The Pew Research Center surveyed Hispanic adults in the U.S. and asked what policy issues are important to them.
  • The majority of respondents found that providing a way for undocumented immigrants to legally stay in the U.S. was the primary concern.
  • Research also indicated responses differentiated based on political party affiliation.

New data confirms that establishing a pathway for undocumented immigrants to obtain citizenship is the top priority for Hispanics in the U.S. this election season.

A study presented by Pew Research Center conducted from Dec. 3-23 in 2019 revealed that 54 percent of respondents surveyed described the creation of a pathway to citizenship as “very important.”

With an additional 29 percent stating that a pathway to citizenship is at least “somewhat important,” a total of 83 percent of Hispanics consider it a relatively important aspect of U.S. immigration policy. 

The study relates this staggering majority to the fact that of the 60 million U.S. Hispanic population, almost all have a connection to an immigrant, whether they themselves were or are one, or a parent or friend is. 

Still, other policies related to U.S. immigration reform were rated similarly. Admitting refugees under asylum when they flee violent conditions in their home countries was the second strongest priority, with 42 percent calling it “very important,” and about 79 percent of U.S. Hispanics rate it as the second leading issue ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.

Other issues that made the top five were improving border security, increasing border security to reduce illegal entry, and increasing the deportation of those in the country illegally.

However, the last issue, deporting residents in the U.S. illegally, was the only policy where the majority of respondents did not call it “very important.” Only 41 percent called it an important policy goal.

Segueing into citizenship options is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protected Hispanic immigrant children from being deported after having been brought to the U.S. An overwhelming majority of respondents want DACA to be enacted as federal law by Congress; 86 percent of respondents — more than 8 out of 10 — want DACA to be passed. 

In terms of analyzing the second most important issue, how to handle asylum seekers at the border, those surveyed were “broadly critical” of the government’s actions, with a total of 63 percent of Hispanic people agreeing that it has been either “somewhat bad” or “very bad,” primarily in regards to maintaining organization around the detainees asking for asylum. 

A critical aspect of the report is that it also breaks down responses by political parties. While the majority of Hispanics in the U.S. register the government’s asylum patrol as bad to a certain degree, a stronger majority of Democratic Hispanics do as opposed to a smaller number of Republican Hispanics, who appear more likely to call it “good.”

Variation by political parties is seen across all issues surveyed, with the majority of Democratic and Democrat-leaning Hispanics prioritizing citizenship pathways and asylum-seekers. Republican and Republican-leaning Hispanics conversely found border security and deporting those in the country illegally to be the chief policy concerns. 

Published on Feb 13, 2020