In terms of voting, immigration matters less to Latino voters than to the general electorate, a national poll shows.
The poll was conducted on Nov. 9 and 10 by Zogby Analytics, on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a conservative group that favors strict immigration policies.
“The conventional wisdom that advocating enforcement of immigration laws is a deal-killer for Hispanic voters is just plain wrong,” FAIR president Dan Stein said in a press release about the poll.
The poll found that more than three-quarters – 77.4 percent – of Latino voters rated immigration as important or somewhat important in choosing whom to vote for, compared to 87.8 percent of white voters and 84.6 percent of the overall electorate.
Similarly, 36.3 percent of Hispanics polled believe the current immigration system is too lax, while only 18.3 percent say it is too strict.
Perhaps most surprisingly, 58.5 of the Latinos polled said that they “support Donald Trump’s immigration policies” – even if they did not like him as a candidate – compared with only 32.9 percent who said they supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s immigration policies.
“Donald Trump may not have won the Hispanic vote in this election, but clearly it was not because of his views on immigration,” Stein said. “If anything, his positions on immigration seem to have helped him among Hispanic voters.”
Despite that, nearly half of the Hispanic respondents – 48.8 percent – favor allowing migrants already in the country illegally a path to legal status, compared to 39.3 percent who favor “enforcing and strengthening laws against illegal immigration to encourage them to return home.”
Overall, 50.3 percent of poll respondents favored stronger laws while 44 percent favor a path to gaining legal status.
The poll had 1,004 total respondents, according to FAIR, with a margin of error of +/-3.1 percent.