Hispanics are divided about what a Donald Trump presidency means for their place in America, according to a Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic adults taken before his inauguration. The survey also finds that a rising share believes the situation of U.S. Hispanics is worsening and that about half of Hispanics are worried about the deportation of someone they know.
About half (54%) of Hispanics say they are confident about their place in America after Trump’s election while four-in-ten Hispanics (41%) say they have serious concerns about their place in America.
Hispanics who do not hold U.S. citizenship and do not hold a green card – a group likely to be in the country without authorization – are more likely than the U.S. born and other immigrants to express concern.1 Among likely unauthorized immigrants, 55% say they have serious concerns about their place in the country after Trump’s election. Meanwhile, 38% of U.S.-born Hispanics and 34% of Hispanic immigrants who are U.S. citizens say they have serious concerns about their place in America. And among Hispanic immigrants who are lawful permanent residents, 49% say the same.
When it comes to progress for Hispanics as a group in the U.S., Hispanics are divided. Half (49%) say the situation of U.S. Hispanics today is about the same as it was a year ago, while 32% say it has worsened and 16% say their group’s situation has improved.
But the share of Hispanics that see the state of U.S. Hispanics worsening has grown in recent years. For example, the share today that says the group’s situation has worsened is about double the share that said the same in 2013 (15%). At the same time, the share that says the situation of U.S. Hispanics is about the same compared with a year ago is down from 58% in 2013. And the share that says the group’s situation is better than a year ago is down from 25% in 2013.
Among Hispanics, a growing share of many key subgroups say that the state of U.S. Hispanics has deteriorated. For example, 42% of Hispanic immigrants who do not hold U.S. citizenship and do not hold a green card today say that the situation of U.S. Hispanics has worsened in the past year, up from 24% who said the same in 2014. Some 38% of Hispanic immigrants who hold U.S. citizenship say this today, up from 21% who said the same in 2014. And 29% of U.S.-born Hispanics say that Hispanics are worse off today than one year ago, up from 17% in 2014. By comparison, Hispanic immigrants who are lawful permanent residents are as likely today (26%) as in 2014 (24%) to say the group’s situation in the U.S. has worsened.
These findings emerge from a new, nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 1,001 Hispanic adults conducted from Dec. 7, 2016, through Jan. 15, 2017, on landline and cellular telephones by SSRS for Pew Research Center. The survey’s margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
The U.S. Hispanic population stood at 57 million in 2015 and is among the nation’s fastest growing groups. It is also a largely U.S.-born population – 66% were born here. Among Hispanics who were born in another country, roughly three-in-ten are lawful permanent residents and about four-in-ten are unauthorized immigrants. (Unauthorized immigrants from Latin America make up 78% of all unauthorized immigrants as well.) At the same time, the group’s population growth has slowed in recent years and is now driven more by births in the U.S. than the arrival of new immigrants, driving down the group’s foreign-born share in recent years.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week issued new immigration enforcement policies that widen the pool of unauthorized immigrants prioritized for deportation to include those who have committed an act that will result in criminal charges, those charged with a crime but not convicted, and those convicted of a criminal offense regardless of severity, among other things.2 In recent weeks, immigrants around the nation have grown concerned about stepped-up deporations under the new administration.
According to the new survey, which was taken before Trump’s inauguration and the reported rise in deportration concerns, Hispanics are split in their concern about deportation. About half (47%) of Hispanic adults, regardless of their immigration status, say they worry “a lot” or “some” that they themselves, a family member or a close friend, could be deported, while 52% say they are worried “not at all” or “not much.”
Worries about deportation among immigrants are greatest for those who do not hold U.S. citizenship and do not hold a green card: 67% say they worry a lot (45%) or some (22%) about the deportation of themselves or someone close to them. And among immigrants who are lawful permanent residents, 66% say they are worried about deportation of themselves or someone close to them. Both of these groups are potentially subject to deportation. By comparison, one-third (33%) of U.S.-born Hispanics say they are worried about deportation of someone they know, while 55% say they worry not much or not at all about deportation.
Deportation concerns among Hispanics are little changed from 2013, when 46% of Hispanics said they worried, and is down from 52% in 2010. Overall, all major subgroups of Hispanics have seen a decline in their worry about deportation or no change in recent years. For example, in 2010, 84% of Hispanic immigrants who were not U.S. citizens and not lawful permanent residents said they worried a lot or some that they or someone close to them could be deported, about 17 percentage points higher than today. Meantime, the share of U.S.-born Hispanics who said the same in 2010 was 32%, similar to today’s 33%.
Top priorities for the new administration and Congress in 2017
Despite the prominence of immigration issues in last year’s presidential campaign, U.S. Hispanics do not rate them a top issue for the new administration or Congress, a pattern similar to that found in previous years of polling by Pew Research Center. According to the new survey, 46% say dealing with the issue of immigration should be a top priority for the new administration and Congress in 2017, ranking last among the five priorities tested in the new survey.
Instead, Hispanics identify education as a top priority issue for the new Trump administration and for the new Congress among those tested. Fully 73% say improving the educational system should be a top priority in 2017. Other top priorities include defending the country from future terrorist attacks (69%) and strengthening the nation’s economy (66%). Following these three issues is reducing health care costs (54%).
This rating of issue priorities among Latinos is similar to that of the U.S. general public, though there are some differences. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults, defending the country from terrorism (76%), strengthening the nation’s economy (73%) and improving the educational system (69%) are rated as the top three prirorities of more than 20 tested. On terrorism and the economy, the share of U.S. adults who rate these as top issues is higher than the share of Latinos who say the same. On reducing health care costs, 66% rate the issue as a top priority for Trump and Congress, again a higher share than among Latinos. Meanwhile, on immigration, 43% of U.S. adults say immigration is a top priority, a share similar to that of Latinos.
More broadly, this pattern for top issues among U.S. Latinos has been fairly consistent for a number of years in Pew Research Center surveys. In fall 2016, the top issues for Latinos were education, the economy and health care. And in December 2008, as President-elect Barack Obama prepared to take office for the first time, Latinos cited the economy, education, health care and national security as top issues for the new administration.3
Overall, 40% of Hispanic adults think Trump will be a poor or terrible president while 28% say he will be an average president and 22% say he will be a good or great president. But there are sharp divides by political party. About half (53%) of Hispanic Republicans say Trump will be a good or great president. By comparison, Hispanic Democrats hold the opposite view: 58% say Trump will be a poor or terrible president.4
Divisions along party lines also exist in Latinos’ views about the Obama administration. Two-thirds (66%) of Latino Democrats say his administration’s accomplishments will be better remembered than its failures. By contrast, 59% of Latino Republicans say the failures will outweigh accomplishments. Overall, half of Latinos (48%) say the Obama administration’s accomplishments will outweigh its failures, while 36% say the opposite.
The terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.
“U.S. born” refers to people who say they were born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories, and those born elsewhere to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen.
“Foreign born” refers to people who say they were born outside of the United States or other U.S. territories to parents who were not U.S. citizens.
The terms “foreign born” and “immigrant” are used interchangeably.
The following terms are used to describe immigrants and their status in the U.S. In some cases, they differ from official government definitions because of limitations in the available survey data.
- “Foreign-born U.S. citizens” refers to persons who indicate they are “foreign born” and who indicate they are U.S. citizens. The terms “foreign-born U.S. citizens” and “naturalized U.S. citizens” are used interchangeably in this report.
- “Foreign-born lawful permanent residents” refers to persons who indicate they are foreign born and who say they have a green card or have been approved for one.
- “Foreign born who are not lawful permanent residents and not U.S. citizens” refers to persons who indicate they are foreign born and who say they do not have a green card and have not been approved for one.