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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Opinions on Arizona

A new AP-Univision poll of Hispanics and non-Hispanics starkly illustrates the very different perspectives of Hispanic and non-Hispanic voters on the controversial new law in Arizona on immigration enforcement. Unsurprisingly, attitudes towards the new law are pretty polarized. Hispanics oppose the law by a 67/15 margin, with fully 60% saying they “strongly oppose” it. Non-Hispanics favor the law by a 45/20 margin, with 31% saying they “strongly favor” it.
Both attitudes appear to be based on an underlying difference of opinion about the advisability of enlisting local law enforcement agencies–i.e., the police officers citizens encounter every day–in immigration enforcement. Hispanics oppose local police enforement of immigration laws by a striking 81/16 margin; non-Hispanics favor it 61/37. Why? Probably because Hispanics by a 73/22 margin believe police “crackdowns” on illegal immigration will unfairly target Hispanics. Non-Hispanics are split down the middle as to whether such crackdowns would unfairly target Hispanics. Beyond that, non-Hispanics seem to have a relatively benign attitude towards the collateral damage that ethnic profiling would inflict on the innocent; only 34% think it would be a very or extremely serious problem if Arizona police stop and question U.S. citizens or legal immigrants as a result of the new law. 73% of Hispanics think it would be a very or extremely serious problem.
So it really does appear that the nationwide Republican rush to endorse the Arizona law represents, among other things, a choice of constituencies; non-Hispanics will tend to approve, though not by massive margins or with great intensity, while Hispanics are going to be unhappy about it in a very personal way. And those conservatives who complain that they only want to target illegal immigrants are ignoring the reality that Hispanic citizens and legal immigrants clear believe local police actions to enforce immigration laws away from the border are inevitably going to compromise their own freedoms.

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