Stuff I think you should know

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Mexican Invasion

A majority of U.S.-born Hispanics, 60 percent, support laws that deny driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, according to a national poll released Tuesday. By contrast, only 29 percent of foreign-born Hispanics feel the same way, said the survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group.

Congress approved the REAL I.D. Act this year, which makes driver's licenses valid for a range of federal activities — from boarding a plane to collecting Social Security benefits — only if they are issued solely to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants. Several states already have laws to ban or restrict illegal immigrants from getting state identification cards and driver's licenses.

In addition, 56 percent of Hispanics said they favor a temporary worker program that would let illegal immigrants continue to live and work in the United States for a number of years before returning home. President Bush has proposed such a plan, although it is unclear whether it would include any chance at permanent residency for temporary workers. In Congress, several proposals have been introduced, but they face an uphill battle because many lawmakers oppose giving any legal status to people who have entered the United States illegally.

The poll also surveyed people in Mexico, and found that Mexicans of all economic and social classes are interested in migrating to the United States. One-fifth of Mexican adults said they would be inclined to live and work in the United States illegally, and more than 50 percent said they would be interested in a temporary worker program that required them to return to Mexico after a certain period of time.

In addition, 35 percent of Mexican college graduates said they would go to the United States if they had the means and opportunity, and about 13 percent said that they were inclined to do so illegally. The portion of the poll in Mexico included home interviews with 2,400 adults in February and May of this year.

The results from both months were virtually identical, showing that the well-publicized "Minutemen" protest in April, in which U.S. citizens patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border to highlight the problem of illegal immigration, made no difference in public attitudes in Mexico, Suro said.

The U.S. survey included telephone interviews with 1,001 Latinos from June 17 to June 27. All surveys have a margin of error of 3 percentage points.


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