- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

More than 40 percent of Hispanic voters say the rising tide of illegal aliens is hurting the country, and more than one-third want the government to discourage additional legal immigration, according to a Democratic survey.

The survey of 1,000 likely Hispanic voters by veteran Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg for a Democratic advocacy group found that 34 percent think there already are too many immigrants in the U.S. and that new entrants into the country should be reduced or stopped altogether.

In one of the most politically significant findings in the Democracy Corps poll, 53 percent of Hispanics said they would support a Democratic candidate “who says the current level of immigration threatens American workers and our national security.”

A number of Democrats recently have moved to the right of President Bush on immigration. Two Southwestern Democratic governors — Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Janet Napolitano of Arizona — have declared states of emergency in several counties within the past week, blaming the federal government for failing to secure the border from illegal crossings.

New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton also has given rhetorical support, saying she “is adamantly opposed to illegal immigrants,” even as she supports education-assistance measures to help the children of illegals.

The poll also comes on the same day as the release of a Pew survey of 1,200 residents of Mexico that had 46 percent saying they would move to the United States if they had the means and opportunity, and 21 percent saying they would be willing to do so illegally.

The Democracy Corps survey results are surprising because U.S. Hispanics, who are now the largest minority bloc in the country, have traditionally been among the strongest supporters of immigration.

On the volatile issue of illegal aliens who are flowing across U.S. borders from Mexico and Central America, 41 percent of Hispanic voters now say “illegal immigration hurts more than helps the U.S.,” although 52 percent think illegal immigration helps more than hurts.

A 56 percent majority also says the U.S. should encourage more legal immigration, Mr. Greenberg says.

“But while support for immigration is high and distinctive, it is not universal, which produces a less certain politics of immigrants,” he said in a recent polling analysis of Hispanic voting trends that is being widely circulated in the party.

While some Democrats are talking tough on border security, the party also is pushing guest-worker proposals with Mexico and other immigration-liberalization measures.

The survey for the Democracy Project, whose leaders also include former Clinton strategist James Carville, has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

A further sign of the political division among Hispanics on the immigration issue came in a poll of 1,001 U.S. Hispanics for the Pew Hispanic Center, separate from the Pew survey of Mexican residents.

The survey found six in 10 Hispanics born in the U.S. want to prohibit illegal immigrants from getting driver’s licenses, compared with two-thirds of Hispanics born outside the U.S. who oppose such a move.

“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.

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