Desert Invasion - U.S.


Poll finds strong desire among Mexicans to immigrate

By Toby Eckert,, August 16, 2005

...a survey released Tuesday showed that four in 10 Mexicans would immigrate to the United States if given the chance and more than half would consider participating in a guest worker program like the one proposed by President Bush.

A separate survey by the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center also revealed a split in attitudes among native- and foreign-born Latinos in the United States on immigration-related issues, including whether illegal immigrants should be allowed to get drivers' licenses. Most U.S.-born Latinos agreed that illegal immigrants should be barred from getting licenses, while a similar majority of foreign-born Latinos disagreed.

Pew's report on migration-related attitudes in Mexico showed interest in coming to the United States remains strong, including among those who earn well above the minimum wage and are well educated. Forty-one percent of Mexicans surveyed in February and 46 percent in May said they would live in the United States if they "had the means and opportunity."

"Very significant portions of the Mexican adult population have the thought of migration in mind and view it as an option," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center. "A significant portion, two out of 10, are willing to consider the idea of coming here without authorization."

"It's very strong in the middle class. It's very strong among people who have some high school education and even among Mexicans who have been to college," he added....

"Everybody wants to come," said Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies. "What that tells us is that thinking about immigration as a demographic or a wage differential doesn't make sense."

Quality of life issues, including law and order, are just as important, Camarota said....

The separate Pew survey of 1,001 U.S. Latinos showed that a plurality, 43 percent, said the number of Latin Americans allowed to immigrate legally to the United States should remain the same as it is now. Thirty-one percent said it should be increased and 13 percent said it should be reduced.

U.S.- and foreign-born Latinos held similar views on that issue. But they split on other matters.

While 60 percent of U.S.-born Latinos approved of laws that grant drivers' licenses only to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, only 29 percent of foreign-born Latinos approved...

The two groups also differ on other immigration-related issues, with 34 percent of U.S.-born Latinos saying illegal immigrants hurt the economy, versus 15 percent of the foreign-born. Among the U.S.-born, 15 percent opposed programs that offer undocumented immigrants a path to legal, permanent residence, while 4 percent of the foreign-born did....

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