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Relief from Deportation More Important than Pathway to Citizenship for Hispanics and Asian Americans

Last week, the Pew Research Center released the results from a new survey on Hispanics’ and Asian Americans’ attitudes towards immigration. Combined, Hispanics and Asian Americans make up two-thirds of immigrants in the United States and the majority of them believe that relief from deportation for undocumented immigrants is more important than a pathway to citizenship. 55% of Latinos said that being able to work and live in the United States without fear of deportation is more important to them while 35% of Latinos reported that citizenship is more important. Asian Americans agreed, but by a smaller margin, with 49% preferring relief from deportation and 44% reporting that a pathway to citizenship as more important. In general, Hispanics are more worried about deportations than Asian Americans, reflecting the fact that there are twice as many undocumented Hispanic immigrants than Asians in the US. 59% of Hispanic immigrants and 46% of all Hispanic immigrants worry that they will be deported or that a family member or close friend will be. The survey’s findings are enlightening in a contentious year for immigration. The Senate passed an Immigration Reform Bill this summer but it then stalled in the House. One of the most controversial aspects of the proposed bill is a 13-year pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. While a large majority of Hispanics (89%) and Asian Americans (72%) support the measure, if they had to choose between relief from deportation and a pathway to citizenship, most would choose deportation relief. This is significant because it might represent a possible way to compromise in a future bill. If immigrant groups are willing to compromise on a pathway to citizenship then maybe there’s a chance that the House can pass immigration reform in 2014. But that still seems unlikely since a vast majority of immigrants and pro immigration reform leaders resolutely support citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. What’s more telling from this data, though, is that being able to work and live without fearing a deportation order is vital. The stability that comes with permanent residency, not having to worry if you or a family member will be deported the next day, being able to plan for the future without fear. This is what matters. This is why we do what we do.

Mark Hugo Lopez, Paul Taylor, Cary Funk and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. December 19, 2013. “On Immigration Policy, Deportation Relief Seen As More Important Than Citizenship: A Survey of Hispanics and Asian Americans”. Pew Research Center


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