World

More Negative on Immigration, More Afraid of Anti-Latino Bias

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, second from left, hugs Maria Sanchez, left, at MacArthur Park, Sunday, May 6, 2007, in Los Angeles. Villaraigosa was reassuring families that the park is still safe ground for children after the May 1st clash between the Los Angeles Police Department and immigration rights demonstrators and members of the media. (AP Photo/Stefano Paltera)

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, second from left, hugs Maria Sanchez, left, at MacArthur Park, Sunday, May 6, 2007, in Los Angeles. Villaraigosa was reassuring families that the park is still safe ground for children after the May 1st clash between the Los Angeles Police Department and immigration rights demonstrators and members of the media. (AP Photo/Stefano Paltera)  (AP2007)

The national backlash against undocumented immigrants has deepened divisions among Latinos and has heightened concerns about anti-Hispanic discrimination, the Pew Hispanic Center says in a survey released today.

The number of Hispanics who believe that illegal immigration has had a positive impact on Latinos living in the United States has fallen dramatically in the last three years. 

According to the Pew survey,  only 29 percent of Hispanics believe illegal immigration has had a positive impact on Latinos living in the U.S. and an equal number – 29 percent – say it’s had a negative impact on them. About 30 had no opinion.

This was in sharp contrast to their feelings just three years ago. A study in 2007 showed 50 percent of Hispanics said illegal immigration was having a positive impact, while 20 percent said it was negative.

While negative attitudes towards undocumented immigration have risen, so have concerns about anti-Latino discrimination. About 61 percent of those surveyed said discrimination was a major problem for Hispanics. This compares with 54 percent three years ago. 

The immigration issue has become a central theme in mid-term elections, with many Republicans and some Democrats taking a hard-line stance against illegal immigration.

On the issue of what to do with on the explosive immigration issue: 53 percent of Hispanics saying the undocumented should pay a fine rather than be deported and 13 percent saying they should be forced back to their countries. About 28 percent of Hispanics say they should not be punished, according to the survey.

Pew surveyed 1,370 Latino adults in English and Spanish from Aug. 17 to Sept. 19.