Most Latinos favor legal status for undocumented immigrants, but also support enforcement

Demonstrators yell at police during a protest outside the Immigration Court in New York City  ( Alex Vros)

Demonstrators yell at police during a protest outside the Immigration Court in New York City ( Alex Vros)  (2016 Getty Images)

An overwhelming majority of Latino registered voters favor giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status, and believe that immigrants bring ideas and entrepreneurial spirit to the United States, a new Fox News Latino poll shows.

More than 800 Latino registered voters nationwide were polled between August 7 and 10.

Eighty eight percent said they favor legalizing undocumented immigrants, 9 percent favor deporting them. Ninety percent support allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors to have a chance to legalize, compared with 9 percent who do oppose it.


About three quarters of those who responded felt that immigrants make positive contributions to the United States, saying that they bring ideas and the entrepreneurial spirit to their adopted homeland.

Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the former secretary of state received a markedly higher favorability rate from Latinos than the real estate mogul on the issue of who would handle immigration better.

Seventy one percent said Clinton would do a better job with immigration, while 19 percent said that Trump would.

Clinton and Trump have offered widely different proposals to how they would address immigration, particularly what they would do about the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Clinton said she would go further than President Barack Obama at giving undocumented immigrants who came as minors – and undocumented parents of legal U.S. resident and citizens – a reprieve from deportation and perhaps also a chance to correct their status.

Trump has promised a hard line on immigration, saying he would build a huge wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as have mass deportation, though he said then he would allow people who are expelled the chance to apply to return.

Clinton supporters say that the Democratic nominee would keep families together by trying to help undocumented people in the United States who contribute to the country and have raised children here.

“Latinos know that Hillary Clinton has our back,” said Pili Tobar, Advocacy and Communications Director for the Latino Victory Project. “She values the contributions of immigrants to the United States and understands the importance of having a just immigration system that allows families to stay together, come out of the shadows, and continue contributing to the country they love.”

“Trump and the GOP would have the American people believe that immigrants are takers and hurting the U.S. economy, but the truth is that immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy every day, pay taxes, start businesses, and create jobs,” Tobar said. “The choice for Latinos is crystal clear, Donald Trump demonizes us, insults us, and puts our families in danger; Hillary is committed to passing immigration reform.”

At the same time, Latinos showed that they do support border security. To the question about whether U.S. immigration policy is strict enough, 26 percent said it was, but more – 38 percent, said it is “not strict enough,” and 30 percent said it is “about right.” Most, 69 percent, said that the immigration system in general is “mostly broken.”

Clinton critics question her sincerity when she speaks about immigration and the promises she makes about reforming the system.

Daniel Garza, executive director of the Libre Intiative, a group partly backed by the conservative Koch brothers that tries to gain support among Latinos for conservatism, said Clinton is just delivering lip service.

“When you look at Hillary Clinton's immigration record for any actual achievements on real reform its clear to see it’s been all empty rhetoric,” Garza said. “As Senator she expressed disdain for the immigrant community, refused to support issuing licenses and just recently demanded the Central American children and families be deported back to a dangerous and precarious situation, without regard to their safety.”

Groups that favor strict immigration policy said that having a lenient approach to undocumented immigrants could be detrimental to Latinos who are here legally.

“The same Fox News poll also shows that the economy is the top issue for Hispanics,” said Bob Dane, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR. “If true, then supporting candidates who oppose amnesty and mass immigration works to their advantage.”

“Upward mobility of new, legally admitted immigrants will happen more rapidly if those at the bottom of the economic scale don’t have to compete with endless flows of additional arrivals.”

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.