Fewer deportations big issue for Asians, Hispanics

Published: Friday | December 20, 2013 Comments 0


With immigration legislation stalled in Congress, Hispanics and Asian-Americans say getting relief from deportations is more important for many of the 11 million immigrants here illegally than creating a pathway to US citizenship, a new study finds.

Two polls released yesterday by the Pew Research Center expose a potential conflict for two minority groups that voted overwhelmingly last year for President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Obama is under pressure from immigration supporters to use his executive power to stop deportations.

Strong majorities of both Hispanics and Asian-Americans continue to back a pathway to citizenship, 89 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively. Still, by 55 per cent to 35 per cent, Hispanics said being able to live and work in the US legally without the threat of deportation was more important. Among Asian-Americans, the ratio was 49 to 44 per cent.

Among both groups, non-citizens are more apt than citizens to consider it important to remove the threat of deportation.

Not all Latino immigrants in the US seek to become American citizens, according to the Pew study. Of Hispanic immigrants who came to the US legally, just 44 per cent have become citizens, due in part to the cost of applying as well as worries about passing the English part of the citizenship test. Among immigrants from Mexico, the largest country of origin, the share is even lower, at 36 per cent.

"There's no question that these groups want a pathway to citizenship for the unauthorised, but the surveys also show that, especially for Latinos, it's the threat of deportation that casts the longest shadow on their communities," said Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew's director of Hispanic research and author of the report.

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