Latinos Upset With Obama Over Deportations, Still Likely to Vote for Him

The Pew Hispanic Center published a report Wednesday showing that Latinos dislike President Obama's deportation policies. Obama has roughly doubled the number of deportations of illegal immigrants since taking office. Regardless, Latinos do not see Republican candidates as offering a better alternative and will likely vote for Obama in high numbers again.

Fifty-nine percent said they disapprove of the way Obama is handling deportations, according to the Pew Hispanic Center's survey of 1,220 Latinos in the United States. Only 27 percent approve, and 13 percent said they do not know or refused to answer the question.

The number of deportations of undocumented immigrants has risen dramatically under Obama. On average, the Obama administration has deported close to 400,000 immigrants each year he has been in office. This is about 30 percent more than the number of deportations during President George W. Bush's second term and about double the number of deportations during Bush's first term. This is despite the fact that illegal immigration, and apprehensions of illegal immigrants, is lower than during the Bush administration due to the economic recession.

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Foreign-born Latinos are much more likely than native-born Latinos to be aware that deportations have increased under Obama. Fifty-five percent of foreign-born Latinos were aware that deportations have increased under Obama. Among native-born Latinos, 44 percent thought deportations were about the same and 13 percent thought they had decreased.

When asked, “What should be the priority for dealing with illegal immigration in the U.S.?” 42 percent chose, “path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S.,” and only 10 percent chose “better border security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws.” Forty-six percent of Latinos said a path to citizenship should be given equal priority with border security and immigration enforcement.

Among the general population, three times as many (29 percent) said that border security and enforcement of immigration laws should be given greater priority.

Only 49 percent of Latinos approve of the way Obama is handling his job, which is down from 58 percent in 2010.

Despite the obvious frustration that Latinos feel toward Obama, they do not see the Republican Party as a preferable alternative. In head-to-head match-ups, Obama would lead former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the current Republican front-runner, 68 to 23 percent among Latino voters. Even against Texas Governor Rick Perry, who would arguably be the most favorable toward Latinos due to his support for in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, Obama's support would remain the same among Latinos.

In the 2008 election, Obama similarly carried 67 percent of the Latino vote over Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), despite the fact that McCain supported, and Obama opposed, a bill in the Senate that would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

When asked which political party has more concern for Latinos, 45 percent answered Democratic Party and only 12 percent answered Republican Party.

Republicans clearly have an image problem with what is becoming one of the most important voting blocs in the country. Latinos are the fastest growing of any race or ethnic group in the country, due to high levels of immigration and a higher than average birth rate. Additionally, the Latino population is increasing in states rich in electoral college votes, such as California, Florida, Texas and New York.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush co-chairs the Hispanic Leadership Network, which will co-host a Republican presidential debate in Florida on Jan. 26. He has been promoting the idea among his fellow Republicans that the party needs to make more of an effort to reach out to Latino voters.

“The tone of our message is one of 'them and us' sometimes,” he said in a Jan. 15 interview with The Wall Street Journal. “But if you send a signal that we really don't want you as part of our team, they're not going to join.”

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