News & Insights

This is some blog description about this site

New America Media Poll Gives Immigrants a Voice in Reform Debate

BY Alex Barnum
Alex Barnum
Alex Barnum was a Communications Officer at The James Irvine Foundation from 200
User is currently offline
| Jun 22, 2006

As Congress debated sweeping immigration reform this spring, more than a million people took to the streets in demonstrations from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Clearly, the extraordinary turnout reflects strong concerns by immigrants and others about the tone of the debate in Washington.

But to get a deeper understanding of the views of immigrants, one had to go beyond the placards and protest chants. Many policymakers and journalists turned to the results of a well-timed poll, released in late March by New America Media, the first major survey of the very communities that would be most affected by policies under consideration.

Photo by Frederic Larson for the SF Chronicle of Immigration rights rally in San Francisco on May 1, 2005

"The poll gave immigrants the first chance to participate in the debate rather than be targets of the debate," says Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media.

The poll's findings helped explain immigrants' hostility to the main provisions of the bill passed late last year by the House of Representatives, the harshest of the reforms under consideration, but it also revealed that neither political party gets very high marks on immigration issues.

"The poll gave immigrants the first chance to participate in the debate rather than be targets of the debate," said Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media, which is using a grant from The James Irvine Foundation to help inform public understanding on a range of significant policy issues.

The national survey by Sergio Bendixen, a Miami-based pollster, interviewed 800 legal immigrants, from 43 countries, living in 47 states — a cross-section designed to mirror the makeup of the 26 million legal immigrants in the United States. In addition to New America Media, the poll was co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund.

The poll probed the attitudes of legal immigrants toward the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. And the findings helped to dispel a frequent claim by those who argue for more punitive laws: that undocumented workers are resented by those who have come here legally.

Bendixen's survey found little evidence for that resentment. On the contrary, the poll found that legal immigrants in the United States view undocumented immigrants favorably and support legislation that would give them a path to citizenship.

Eighty-one percent of legal immigrants said they think undocumented workers are taking jobs that legal residents do not want to do, rather than taking jobs away from them. And 73 percent said that illegal immigrants help the economy by providing low-cost labor, while only 17 percent said they hurt the economy by driving down wages.

Overall, legal immigrants expressed alarm at the tone and substance of the current political debate on immigration policy. Two-thirds of people polled believe that anti-immigration sentiment is growing in the United States, and more than half said it has affected them and their families personally.

Legal immigrants give all the major political parties fairly low ratings on immigration issues. While only 22 percent said the Republican Party was doing a good job, the Democratic Party did not fare much better, with only about a third of legal immigrants giving them a positive rating.

"New America Media's polling educates policymakers and the public about the perspectives of communities whose opinions are often under the radar screen," noted Amy Dominguez-Arms, Irvine's Program Director of California Perspectives. "Their polls reveal both interesting commonalities and areas of differences on important policy issues among California's diverse, multi-lingual population."

The James Irvine Foundation's support to New America Media extends beyond its polling on significant state and national issues and includes support for New America Media's role in strengthening ethnic media's capacity to report on California policy issues, via its news service and through new journalism fellowship programs.

0 votes

Contributor

Alex Barnum was a Communications Officer at The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013.

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment.
The opinions expressed in the Comments section are those of the commenters and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

Submit a comment

Guest
Guest Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Categories

Irvine Publications

Contributors

Aaron Pick
2 post(s)
"As Senior Program Officer of the Youth program, Aa..."
Alex Barnum
57 post(s)
"Alex Barnum was a Communications Officer at The Ja..."
Amy Dominguez-Arms
16 post(s)
"As Director of the California Democracy program, A..."
Angela Glover Blackwell
"Angela Glover Blackwell is the founder and CEO of ..."
Anne Stanton
9 post(s)
"As Director of the Youth program, Anne Stanton lea..."
Anne Vally
7 post(s)
"Anne Vally was with The James Irvine Foundation fr..."
Catherine Hazelton
14 post(s)
"As a Senior Program Officer for the California Dem..."
Chris Henrikson
1 post(s)
"Chris Henrikson is the Founder and Executive Direc..."
Connie Malloy
1 post(s)
"Connie Galambos Malloy is Senior Program Officer f..."
Daniel Silverman
55 post(s)
"A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the F..."
Don Howard
4 post(s)
"Don Howard was appointed Interim President and Chi..."
Doug Chapin
2 post(s)
"Doug Chapin directs the Future of California Elect..."
Ekta Chopra
1 post(s)
"Ekta Chopra is Irvine's Director of Technology, le..."
Greg Avis
4 post(s)
"Greg Avis is chair of the board of The James Irvin..."
Hilary McLean
1 post(s)
"Hilary McLean serves as deputy director of the Lin..."
Jeanne Sakamoto
3 post(s)
"Jeanne Sakamoto has worked at Irvine since 2004 an..."
Jennifer Ortega
1 post(s)
"As the California director for the national busine..."
Jim Canales
56 post(s)
"Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executiv..."
John Jenks
3 post(s)
"As Treasurer and Chief Investment Officer, John di..."
Josephine Ramirez
16 post(s)
"As Arts Program Director, Josephine is leading the..."
Joyce Sood
6 post(s)
"As Digital Communications Officer, Joyce Sood lead..."
Karthick Ramakrishnan
"Karthick Ramakrishnan is associate professor of po..."
Kenji Treanor
4 post(s)
"Kenji Treanor has worked at Irvine since 2004 and ..."
Kevin Rafter
6 post(s)
"As Manager of Impact Assessment and Learning, Kevi..."
Lisa García Bedolla
"Lisa García Bedolla is Associate Professor in the ..."
Manuel Pastor
1 post(s)
"Manuel Pastor directs the Program for Environmenta..."
Mark Baldassare
1 post(s)
"Mark Baldassare is the president and CEO of the Pu..."
Ralph Lewin
1 post(s)
"Ralph Lewin is President and CEO of Cal Humanities..."
Raphael J. Sonenshein
"Raphael J. Sonenshein is the Executive Director of..."
Ray Delgado
55 post(s)
"Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation f..."
Reshma Shamasunder
"Reshma Shamasunder has served as Executive Directo..."
Rick Noguchi
4 post(s)
"Rick Noguchi has been with Irvine since 2008 and h..."
Stephen Levy
1 post(s)
"Stephen Levy is director of the Center for Continu..."
Ted Russell
3 post(s)
"Ted Russell has been with Irvine since 2005 and he..."
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
73 post(s)
"As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides p..."
Vince Stewart
2 post(s)
"Vince Stewart was a Senior Program Officer for the..."