Hispanics Split on Driver's License Access for Illegals

A majority of Hispanics born in the United States don't think illegal Hispanic immigrants should be given driver's licenses, according to a new poll.

Most foreign-born Hispanics disagree, according to the polling for the Pew Hispanic Center.

Six in 10 Hispanics born in this country approve of measures to prohibit illegal immigrants from getting drivers' licenses, while two-thirds born in another country disapprove of such measures.

The difference between foreign-born Hispanics and native-born Hispanics on the driver's license issue highlights the disparity between the two groups on several issues.

Foreign-born Hispanics take a more positive view than native-born Hispanics on whether immigrants strengthen the United States. Almost nine in 10 foreign-born Hispanics say immigrants strengthen the country, while two-thirds of Hispanics born in the United States feel that way, according to the poll.

"Among Latinos in the United States, there's a majority that views immigrants favorably, but there is a significant minority concerned about unauthorized immigration into the country and its impact," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center.

Two-thirds of Hispanics in the U.S. said undocumented migrants help the economy by providing low-cost labor. Again, foreign-born Hispanics were more upbeat about the impact of undocumented migrants than those born in this country.

Most Hispanics feel the number of immigrants coming in the country should stay the same or be reduced, with only a third saying the numbers should increase, according to the poll done for Pew and another done for Time Magazine.

Three-fourths in a Time poll of 503 Hispanic adults said people in the United States illegally are taking jobs that U.S. citizens don't want. The Time poll was taken from July 28 to Aug. 3.

The Pew study also looked at how Mexicans feel about trying to get into the United States.

Almost half of Mexicans, 46 percent, surveyed in May said they would go to the U.S. if they could. About two in five said they would be inclined to go live and work in the U.S. without authorization.

"The desire to migrate is not a phenomenon of the poor and poorly educated," Suro said. "The inclination to migrate is powerful in the middle class in Mexico, even those with college educations say they would go to the United States if they could."

The survey of Hispanics in the United States was conducted for the Pew Hispanic Center from June 14-27 by ICR and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. In Mexico, Pew surveyed 1,200 adults in May and the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.