When Hispanics in the U.S. were surveyed last year, shortly before the inauguration of Donald Trump, about half said they worried that they or someone they knew could be deported. In a new survey this year, that share rose to a majority of all Hispanics – and fully two-thirds of Hispanic immigrants.
The new survey also finds that, compared with 2010, a larger share of Latinos are talking about the immigration policy debate with people they know. Latinos overall are not more likely to report participating in protests or demonstrations over immigrant rights since Donald Trump took office than in the past.
Hispanics overall are less likely than a decade ago to say that the U.S. has too many immigrants. They are more willing than the general public to favor granting legal status to unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. And they are more likely than the general public to oppose expanding the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
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Hispanics have very close ties to immigration. In 2017, about one-in-three (35%) Hispanics living in the U.S. were immigrants, while a similar share (32%) had at least one parent who moved to the U.S. from another country.
More than half of Latinos say they worry about deportation
A majority of Hispanics in the U.S. (55%), regardless of legal status, say they worry “a lot” or “some” that they, a family member or a close friend could be deported, up from 47% who said the same in 2017.
Hispanics who are immigrants themselves or have immigrant parents are more likely than U.S.-born Hispanics to say they worry about deportation. Fully two-thirds (66%) of immigrant Hispanics say they worry about deportation, compared with 43% of those who were born in the U.S. The share rises to 78% among those who are likely unauthorized immigrants – that is, they are not U.S. citizens and they do not have a green card.
Latinos who speak Spanish as their primary language are also more likely to worry about deportation than those who speak English as their primary language. In addition, Democratic Latinos are almost twice as likely as Republican Latinos to say they worry about deportation.
In the first eight months of the Trump administration, immigration arrests in the interior of the U.S., particularly of immigrants without a criminal background, increased by 42% over the same period the year before. This year, the Trump administration started a zero-tolerance policy (later revised) that led to the separation of thousands of families after crossing the border illegally. However, the number of deportations under Trump are still below record levels reached during the Obama administration.
Immigration debate and participation in protests
About seven-in-ten Latinos (71%) say they have talked about the immigration policy debate with family, friends or coworkers since Trump became president, 9 percentage points higher than those who said so in 2010 (62%). The current survey was taken as the Trump administration is restricting or attempting to restrict immigration and has adopted enforcement policies at the border aimed at reducing the number of immigrants crossing illegally and those seeking asylum in the U.S. The 2010 survey was taken shortly Arizona enacted a controversial law (most of which was later blocked by the courts) to reduce the number of unauthorized immigrants.
Fully 80% of Latinos who are registered to vote in the coming midterm elections say they have talked about the immigration debate, compared with 64% of those not registered to vote.
Latinos who were born in the U.S. or have at least some college education are more likely than their counterparts to have talked about immigration policy. In addition, Latinos ages 18 to 29 are most likely to say (79%) they have talked about immigration than most older groups.
When asked about participating in a protest or demonstration to support immigrant rights, 16% of Latinos say they have done so since Trump became president (about the same share who said that in 2010).
Some subgroups among Latinos are more likely than others to report having done this. About one-in-four Latinos ages 18 to 29 (23%) have participated in a protest, a higher share than in other age groups.
Also, a higher share of Latino Democrats than Republicans say they have participated in a protest.
Similarly, those who are U.S. born are more likely than immigrants to say they have participated in a demonstration. Among those born in the U.S., Latinos with at least one immigrant parent (28%) are significantly more likely to have participated in a demonstration than those without an immigrant parent (14%).
In addition, 19% of Latinos who are registered to vote said they have attended an immigrant rights demonstration, a number similar to those who are not registered to vote (15%).
Hispanics and the number of immigrants in the U.S.
Thinking about the number of immigrants living in the U.S. today, Latinos have dramatically shifted their views from a decade ago. Today, about half of Latinos (48%) believe there is about the right amount of immigrants living in the U.S., while a quarter say there are too many immigrants and 14% say there are too few. By comparison, in 2007 (the last time this question was asked), Latinos were split between saying there were too many immigrants (42%) and the right amount (41%). Only 9% thought there were too few.
There are differences in these views among certain groups of Latinos. For example, Republican Latinos are more likely than Democrat Latinos to say there are too many immigrants.
Meanwhile, Latinos ages 65 and older are about as likely to say there are too many immigrants as that there is the right amount, while in other age groups the largest share says the amount of immigrants is right.
Another key factor linked to attitudes about the number of immigrants is education. Latinos with lower levels of education are more likely than those with at least some college education to say too many immigrants are living in the country today.
Views of immigration policies
Latinos have stronger ties to their immigrant roots than the U.S. general public, and their views about recently discussed immigration policies reflect this. Compared with the general public, a larger majority of Latinos are in favor of granting legal permanent residence to unauthorized immigrants who were brought to this country as children (87% among Latinos vs. 73% among the general public) and oppose substantially expanding the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border (75% among Latinos vs. 56% of the general public).
Latinos who are immigrants or whose parents immigrated are especially likely to favor granting legal status to immigrants who came to this country as children. Fully 93% of Latino immigrants favor expanding the protections for childhood arrivals, compared with 81% of those born in the U.S. Among the foreign born, nearly all (96%) of those who are not U.S. citizens support this initiative, compared with 88% of those who are naturalized citizens.
Among those born in the U.S., those who have an immigrant parent are more likely to support granting legal status (88%) than those whose parents were born in the U.S. (75%). In addition, Latinos who predominantly speak Spanish are more likely to favor this policy (95%) than those who are bilingual (86%) or are predominantly English speakers (81%).
Hispanics who are immigrants themselves or have at least one immigrant parent are also more likely to oppose expanding the border wall. About eight-in-ten (81%) immigrant Hispanics oppose expanding the wall, compared with about seven-in-ten (69%) of those born in the U.S. Among the U.S. born, three-in-four (75%) second-generation Hispanics oppose expanding the wall at the border versus 64% of Hispanics who are third generation or more.
Hispanics of Mexican origin are also more likely to oppose the wall (80%) than are those of other origins (68%). In addition, Hispanic Democrats are significantly more likely to oppose this policy than are Hispanic Republicans (87% versus 46%).