Hispanics Take Political Aim at Arizona's Law

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 17, 2010 | Go to article overview

Hispanics Take Political Aim at Arizona's Law


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The new Arizona immigration law has yet to take effect, but it already has galvanized Hispanic voters to become more actively involved in the political process, according to two recent telephone polls.

Arizona's Hispanic voters overwhelmingly oppose the law, which takes effect this summer and authorizes state police to arrest anyone reasonably suspected of being an illegal immigrant. But they are increasingly frustrated by federal inaction on comprehensive immigration reform and are moving swiftly away from candidates who support the Arizona law, the polls said.

The polls were conducted by two research and opinion firms - Latino Decisions and Grove Insight - for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), with 2.2 million members in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

This polling data confirms what we have known for a long time, SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina said. American voters, Latino and non-Latino alike, are angry and increasingly fed up with Congress' continued failure to fix our broken immigration system. In the absence of a practical fix by Congress, voters will grasp at straws for anything they believe delivers action.

But, he said, there is clearly a political cost among Latino voters, adding that their widespread opposition to the new law, known as SB 1070, shows that frivolous, reactionary state laws just serve to galvanize Latino voters to move away from candidates who push draconian, enforcement-only legislation.

The Latino Decisions poll of 402 voters in Arizona and the Grove Insight poll of 500 base voters in Arizona tested overall views and political implications of the passage of the new law, as well as voters' views on immigration reform.

Key findings included that 81 percent of Arizona's Hispanic voters oppose SB 1070. Since the bill's passage, the polls found, immigration reform has become the leading issue among Hispanic voters, shooting up by 16 percentage points and moving ahead of the economy and health care as the leading issue among Latino voters.

The data shows very clearly that Latino voters in Arizona, from first-generation immigrants to fourth-generation families, are very much opposed to SB 1070 and national immigration reform is now their single most important issue, said Matt A. …

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